The legendary band engage fans using their striking album art and a spot of WebAR.
Pink Floyd are almost as well known for their embracing of visual art as they are for their epic and emotional music. Sony Legacy Recordings worked with the band on The Later Years box set that compiles recent works into a collection that seeks to appeal to Floyd aficionados. What better way to engage the fanbase of than to use augmented reality to bring designs, symbols and scenes from famous Pink Floyd LPs into the world of their fans?
WebAR is all about lessening the ‘friction’ of downloading an AR app by enabling the user to jump straight from viewing a web page into the augmented experience. When the team from Sony Legacy got in touch it was clear that they were already well aware of the benefits of WebAR versus a conventional AR app – if there is such a thing as conventional in the ever-shifting sands of AR.
In fact, WebAR itself is fast closing the gap on ‘traditional’ apps. Only months before the project with Pink Floyd began, the use of plane detection to anchor an experience to flat surfaces by a browser-based AR experience was very experimental. Drawing on the studio’s previous WebAR experience when exploring the brief, we knew that this would be ambitious both technically and creatively. We chose 8th Wall’s toolkit as the basis of the Later Years experience; this platform is emerging as one of the leaders of WebAR.
The collaboration with Sony Legacy would certainly push this fast-evolving medium hard. The key aims were to offer multiple ways to engage with Pink Floyd’s rich visuals without the need for markers, but to still solidly anchor the visuals contextually within the real world. Beyond that, the experience should also encourage users to capture their scene and share the resulting photos using the WebAR experience.
Happily, Pink Floyd’s album art is ideal for the AR treatment. Frequently, it is about incongruous and surreal additions that subvert and bring meaning to the world around us. Each of the highlighted albums seemed to imply movement so interpreting them emerging into the environment around the user felt natural.
When launched, in the cusp of the Christmas holidays, tens of thousands of users across nearly 140 countries tried the Pink Floyd Later Years AR experience during the first week alone. It boasted a long engagement time of around two minutes on average; a brilliant result for what was, in essence, a promotion. WebAR, as a new form of technology, worked well with Pink Floyd’s audience, with numerous photos captured by fans and posted to social media across the world.