A group of Duke students have re-envisioned the traditional concert experience.

‘Perspective'—a virtual reality installation—showcases a Nona Hendryx concert at Moogfest, a music and technology festival in Durham, from four different perspectives. Created by a board of 10 Duke students, 'Perspective' was available last Saturday and Sunday in Bullpen, which also houses the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative downtown.

“We started by talking about the notion of performances and that people miss performances, so that was our problem identification standpoint,” Anthony Alvernaz, Trinity ’17, said. “We thought it would be neat to not only visit one that you had to miss, but also experience it in ways you couldn’t have even if you were there.”

‘Perspective’ allows users to experience part of Nona Hendryx’s Moogfest performance from different angles, using a Samsung Gear VR headset that toggles between audience, aerial and backstage points of view, and even of Hendryx herself.

During the brainstorming process, senior John Sipp said the board was deciding between filming Hendryx and filming Survive, the band behind the soundtrack of the Netflix original series "Stranger Things." However, they ultimately chose Hendryx based on her receptiveness to new technology and general aesthetic.

“She had so much wearable tech that she was already putting on that we thought she’d be the most open to having the goofy little camera we had,” Sipp said. “She had her whole futuristic vibe going, so we thought it would blend right in.”

Comprised of students from various academic backgrounds, the Moogfest student board was established for the first time this year. The project was left open for the students to develop over two semesters, keeping in mind the themes of technology and art that central to Moogfest.

“When VR came onto the table for this project, I had some internal pushback," Alvernaz said. "I didn’t want this to be something where we set up cameras and didn’t think about what we were doing in terms of perspective."

The team faced several setbacks during the year-long project, including a theft of equipment after classes ended. Sipp said there was a mix-up regarding the equipment's storage location and the box of equipment ended up in a dorm’s common room, where it subsequently disappeared.

With less than two weeks before Moogfest, the team managed to cut $6,000 worth of equipment into $2,000, using the last of their budget to replace cameras, microphones and VR headsets.

“It was an exercise in budgeting,” Alvernaz said. “We had to not go for the new stuff and make some compromises on used equipment.”

'Perspective’ began showing on Saturday after Hendryx's Friday Moogfest performance. While the students filmed her entire set with 3D cameras, ‘Perspective’ included only the ‘What Is Sound’ poem from her performance.

With less than 24 hours to edit the concert footage and make it VR-compatible, the team was forced to delay Friday’s installation for an hour and a half due to technology issues. Sipp said the reactions of Hendryx and her team upon seeing the final product, however, made the stress of the rapid turnaround worth it.

“My favorite reaction was from Lee, the director of Nona’s set, who we stressed out the most because we’re students and weren’t on top of our game enough for what he wanted,” Sipp said. “When he finally came in and saw it, he said ‘it’s everything you said it was going to be, and so much more’ and he was gushing over seeing Nona’s perspective.”

While the board has not yet made any official decisions on next year’s project, Sipp said he envisions three different possibilities—building on the current project, splitting the team in half to continue the VR project and to develop a second project or scrapping the VR project entirely. Initially, the stress of the project inclined him to want to start over.

“Now that we’ve finished, I think we probably want to build on what we know. We already have ideas for what we can do bigger and better," Sipp added.