Philharmonia Orchestra: ‘Best Seat in the House’ VR


The project

INITION partnered up with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Southbank Centre to create a truly unique orchestra experience. The ‘digital takeover’ presents the first major virtual reality (VR) production from a UK symphony orchestra.   

The project delivered was a 360° 3D video and audio experience, transporting the user into the centre of the orchestra, standing beside its Principal Conductor & Artistic advisor Esa-Pekka Salonen.

The production aimed to allow people to experience the wonders of classical music using emerging technologies whereby the user get fully immersed in the sounds and captivated by the music. The experience was designed to showcase the production, using Samsung Gear VRs, to members of the public visiting the Southbank Centre.

key facts

  • Who: The Philharmonia Orchestra & Southbank Centre
  • What: A 360° Stereoscopic Audiovisual Virtual Reality Experience
  • Where: Royal Festival Hall, London



After extensive research and development, INITION created a custom 360° stereoscopic camera rig, bespoke lens system and incorporated it into a digitally printed rig we designed in-house. This has ensured the highest production value for the client’s brief. The team combined their extensive knowledge of audio visual solutions, stereoscopic and CGI skills to produce the end production, making large investments on upgrades into 4K resolution, 360 stereo cameras and lenses, storage solutions and workstations to further experiment future virtual reality applications. The end result allowed INITION to create an experience where  the viewer is placed in the centre of the orchestra – a unique point of view only experienced by professional musicians.

“Philharmonia Orchestra and INITION were keen to explore the potential of VR as an insight into what it is like to be a conductor of a world renowned orchestra. The ambition was to produce a VR film that takes a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the preparation of a concert and that places the viewer at the heart of a performance.

We felt it vital to strive for the best visual and audio experience currently achievable and developed a capture system to deliver stunning 360° 3D imagery and crisp, clear positional sound, so that the viewer has full freedom to explore the detailed craft & workings of some of the world’s most talented musicians.” – Peter Collis, Technology Director at INITION

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INITION have been fantastic to work with, with a bold, constructive approach to an entirely new medium, which we couldn’t have tackled in-house. They have the creative confidence to imagine a much wider use for vr beyond traditional gaming.

response from the philharmonia orchestra

“For us, virtual reality was a natural progression on what the Philharmonia’s in-house digital team has been doing for years. Since 2010, we’ve been touring large-scale installations that bring orchestral music to people beyond the concert hall. RE-RITE and Universe of Sound are immersive audio-visual exhibitions that put you inside a symphony orchestra as it’s performing, allowing you to walk through a ten-room ‘virtual orchestra’, showing a performance by the orchestra on over 30 video screens. Virtual Reality allowed us to put you inside the orchestra, but in a different way. The VR film that we have made with Inition gives you the best seat in the house; you sit at the heart of the orchestra, on stage at the Royal Festival Hall, in front of our Principal Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. For us, the audio experience was also critical, so INITION developed a way to capture the audio in 3D, using binaural microphones and spatial audio to create the effect of the audio moving as you turn your head. Their 3D video is also some of the best quality 360 video I’ve seen so far on VR.

Technology is at the heart of what we do as an orchestra, with our own dedicated Digital team creating video, all of our web content, and delivering our large-scale productions (from tents to trucks) in-house. Technology allows us to connect new audiences with the orchestra, allows people to experience our music in an entirely new way, and transform our educational programme as well.

INITION have been fantastic to work with, with a bold, constructive approach to an entirely new medium, which we couldn’t have tackled in-house. They have the technical expertise to come up with their own bespoke solutions – from the camera rigs to 3D audio capture to eventually outputting content on brand new or beta hardware – as well as the creative confidence to imagine a much wider use for VR beyond traditional gaming.” Luke Ritchie, Digital Director at Philharmonia


Philharmonia Orchestra: Digital Takeover of the Royal Festival Hall

The Guardian: You’re in the band: virtual reality’s orchestral future

Evening Standard: The Southbank Centre’s Virtual Orchestra uses the magic of technology to put visitors centre stage

Wired: Surround sound: the Philharmonia Orchestra takes on VR to attract younger audiences

The Drum: VR classical concerts to become a reality

The Telegraph: Southbank launches ‘virtual reality’ orchestra as director vows to keep up with digital world

Event Magazine: Philharmonia plans immersive digital series at Southbank

Classic FM: Philharmonia Orchestra brings virtual reality to Southbank Centre

The Memo: Virtual Reality: Get on stage at the Royal Festival Hall & conduct an orchestra