A Virtual Reality Developer Rebuilt Tomorrowland's Main Stage for the Metaverse
Tomorrowland is not only renowned internationally for its music lineups but for its state of the art festival structures and engaging stages. Aussie VR developer Jake Donaldson attended weekend three of this year’s iteration of Tomorrowland, an experience which later inspired him to create an extraordinary virtual rendition of one of its stages. Donaldson attended the festival solo, sharing that he went to experience Tomorrowland with no expectations at all. Not planning on seeing any artists in particular, the developer made his way all around the festival grounds, having a particularly memorable experience seeing Hot Dub Time Machine perform at the festival’s Library stage.
“I've seen Hot Dub Time Machine a bunch of times in the past and his shows are always an awesome time,” shared Donaldson. “He has a unique gimmick—he takes his audience on a journey through time playing his tracks in chronological order...I had an absolute blast.”
After wanting to experience the festival in person for two years, Donaldson said his first Tomorrowland experience completely met his expectations. “I loved the stages and design of the festival, and how they create little unique experiences at every corner,” he shared.
The developer enjoyed it so much he built the Belgian festival’s “Reflection of Love” stage in VR, utilizing an application developed by Facebook, now officially known as Meta. “I discovered VR back in 2015 when a friend told me about it,” he explained. “I began researching it and became obsessed! I ended up buying a bunch of expensive VR tech knowing that I would somehow make this my career.”
Today, the Australian developer is a self-taught coder who develops interactive VR experiences professionally. His love for music and VR collided when he drew up the idea to endeavor to recreate the Tomorrowland stage in VR.
Though the Horizon Worlds app is still in its early days, according to Donaldson, he was drawn to its creation tools which allow one to build entire virtual worlds within the app without using any external apps or resources.
In Horizon, Donaldson used simple 3D shapes like cubes and spheres to virtually build out the complex stage.
“This year's main stage had a lot of intricate details and unique formations that were difficult to replicate with Horizon's creation tools,” he recalled. “The stage's curves were especially tricky. Most of the curves in the build are just a series of cubes positioned in a particular way to create the illusion of a curve. It was a very tedious process. I had to be careful about choosing which details to include and which to omit. Each Horizon World has an object limit so there were some details that I would have liked to include that didn't end up making the cut.”
The creative developer said creating fun details like the Tomorrowland logo and balloon was what he enjoyed most about the process.
Beyond its creation tools, Donaldson shared Horizon Worlds has various metaverse-like features. Now that the stage and its developing virtual world continues to grow, anyone who owns a Quest 2 headset can join in and experience Tomorrowland in VR. The only thing missing are the headliners to perform at the VR event, said Donaldson.
“For this stage, I'm looking for big room and future house DJs and other artists that would appear on the real Tomorrowland main stage,” he shared. “I'm yet to lock in any artists, but am planning to put on a show a few weeks from now.”
This is only the beginning for the passionate developer’s live music VR work, he said. Currently in the process of scripting timed visual effects and unique interactive events, Donaldson hopes to make future virtual shows as exciting and interactive as possible for visitors. “I intend to keep exploring the virtual live music space. It's an exciting space to be in and I'm excited for what the future holds.”