Google’s Tilt Brush has long been one of virtual reality’s biggest killer apps. The 3D drawing app for high-end headsets charms everyone, artists and amateurs alike. Now, Los Angeles-based Survios is working on a new app that may just rival Tilt Brush’s wide appeal.
Survios showed off Electronauts at CES in Las Vegas this week, and is currently testing it with artists in a closed beta. A public release is planned for later this year.
Electronauts can best be described as a music creation and remix tool — that is if music is being made by electronica-loving astronauts jamming on the bridge of a spaceship that’s flying through a collection of psychedelic tunnels. Because in VR, why would you do music any other way?
Users first pick a room, which is essentially a song or a collection of sounds combined with some matching animations. Once in that room, they can pick key components of the song they want to work on — the intro, the bridge, the break — and then manipulate individual parts. Mute the kick drum for example, or play the bass in real-time.
There are a number of different sound manipulation tools, including a 3D effects editor, “grenades” with one-time sound effects — think a siren or a synth sound — that you throw into the room to activate them, and even sequencers to record bass lines or rhythm loops.
There’s a lot to do in Electronauts, but it’s surprisingly easy to get started. That’s in part because the app has been designed to simplify music creation. All sounds and loops have been quantized, so everything automatically fits into the right rhythm, and it’s really hard to make something sound awful.
Electronauts is also working with a number of musicians, and has already announced a collaboration with Stargate, the producer duo behind the P!nk and Sia collab “Waterfall,” to prepopulate the app with songs and loops that will get you started.
That being said, there’s plenty about Electronauts that experienced musicians and DJs might like as well. For one thing, Survios wants to enable artists to add their own loops and samples at launch.
The app also lends itself to live performances with its visuals, which include multiple camera angles, and matching animations. Animations also fade in and out with the music when users switch from one song or “room” to another.
There’s also an option for up to two users to jam on a song together, even of you’re only connected with each other over the internet. That could be a great set-up for a live set, but also a lot of fun if you play with the app at home.
All of this goes back to Electronauts being a bit like Tilt Brush: Outside of the realm of video games, a lot of experiential VR is fun once or twice, but very few of these experiences really make you want to come back over and over again. With Electronauts, Survios may have cracked the code for turning something that’s not a game into a VR killer app.