It’s no secret that Queen guitarist Brian May is a fan of virtual reality — he’s designed his own mobile VR glasses and said that the medium will change the world. Today, everyone can get a hint of what his new reality might look like with The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience, an interactive app created by Queen, Google Play, and studio Enosis VR.
A prototype version of this experience was shown at Google I/O and at May’s own event earlier this year, but the final version is now being released on Android, and is coming to iOS soon. Google describes the app as "a journey through frontman Freddie Mercury’s subconscious mind," and it’s reminiscent of the Spotlight Stories that Google has released with directors like Patrick Osborne and Justin Lin — viewers can either watch with a Cardboard headset, or use the flat screen as a "window" into the world of the video.
One of the highlights of the video is actually the fact that it uses a spatialized version of the song — sound that feels like it corresponds to fixed points in the world around you, changing as you turn your head. It gives depth to a series of animations that range from detailed fantasy scenes to a neon rendering of Freddy Mercury (with his mustachio’d, post-Bohemian Rhapsody look). Similar to Spotlight Stories videos, you can also move to catch small, subtle vignettes on different parts of the screen. Somewhat unusually, the piece isn’t on YouTube, where most of Google’s other VR video lives.
Google has been working on pieces like this since 2013, well before virtual reality became popular. But as we saw at I/O, its ambitions are growing — alongside things like The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience, it’s also reportedly paying YouTube filmmakers and game companies hundreds of thousands of dollars to create content for its Daydream platform, which is likely to be revealed at an event on October 4th.