'Virtual' trad sessions as part of MTU Innovation month

Virtual Reality performances by members of the Cork School of Music are being showcased at Munster Technological University campuses in March as part of MTU Innovation month.
'Virtual' trad sessions as part of MTU Innovation month

MTU Cork School of Music.

Traditional Irish musicians are being transported ‘virtually’ to music and college venues across Cork and Kerry throughout the month of March.

Virtual Reality performances by members of the Cork School of Music are being showcased at Munster Technological University campuses in March as part of MTU Innovation month.

Kevin O’Mahony, Research Fellow at Nimbus Research Centre on MTU campus, explained the concept.

“The virtual reality piece has been produced over the last two months, with academics and researchers. There will be exhibit stands where there will be virtual reality headsets. Once students put on their headsets, they can immerse themselves into trad performances that were recorded in an extended reality lab.” 

Cork School of Music students performed against a green screen set-up. There were 360-degree recordings taken at the Triskel Christchurch Arts Centre in Cork city, at the Corner House Bar in Coburg Street, and at Siamsa Tire folk theatre in Tralee.

“We composited the musicians into those three venues. We recorded an ambisonic 360 audio from the three venues,” said Mr O’Mahony. 

“They can immerse themselves in 360 degrees while watching the performance. They can also get a sense of how it actually sounds in those venues.” 

Two XR headsets will be available at each stand, with the performances lasting three to four minutes. Students can navigate between the three venues.

MTU Enterprise is to host the first event, called Réaltacht - Traditional Irish music performances in Extended Reality, on Tuesday, March 21, from 11.30am to 3.30pm, at the Cork School of Music Foyer, Union Quay, Ballintemple, Cork. Cork School of Music is a constituent college of MTU.

The show continues in the Bishopstown Nexus Student Centre on Wednesday, and in the Main Reception at MTU Kerry on the Thursday, on both days from 11.30am to 3.30pm. The following week will see the show go to the National Maritime College in Ringaskiddy.

Cork School of Music's Irish traditional music ensemble, Bruach, have collaborated with NeXIS to produce the performances.

NeXIS is a collaboration between extended reality research groups at MTU working in the fields of augmented reality (AR), VR, Mixed Reality (MR), Marine Simulation, video and audio media production.

“Different research groups are working together in extended reality,” said Mr O’Mahony. 

“We’re working with our colleagues in the Cork School of Music, with our colleagues down in Tralee, and at the Maritime College. They all have their own tech ability in virtual reality. There are creative artists as well.” 

Using MTU’s research expertise and enterprise supports, NExIS partners facilitate the introduction of ER technology into the classroom, afford the research community access to ER technology, collaborate with industry, and support enterprise research and technology showcase events.

“Our mission is to position MTU at the centre of a nationwide network of extended reality suites, as the foremost hub for immersive training and research in Ireland,” said a spokesperson.

Meanwhile, MTU sent its best wishes to their traditional Irish music students and their lecturer Johnny McCarthy, who was performing at the Irish Embassy in Eqypt and at the Pyramids on St Patrick’s Day. 

“These opportunities for travel are invaluable learning experiences for our students,” said a spokesperson for MTU Cork School of Music.

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