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/ case study

Flashlights up: How Active Theory builds living digital festivals with Mux’s video infrastructure

banner for Active Theory
companyActive Theory
productVirtual events and microverses
locationLos Angeles, California
industryDigital production studio

When the world couldn’t come together, every work call, panel, and conference went virtual. While this model may work for corporate communication, it doesn’t quite *hit the same* for electronic dance music. So when musician Porter Robinson decided to bring his festival, Secret Sky, online, he knew he needed to create a different kind of virtual venue for his audience.

Robinson teamed up with creative technology company Active Theory to build a digital world that his fans could access through their web browsers. Through their own individual avatars, fans could explore, chat, and experience the live-streamed festival together. To create those powerful connections between the streaming and the digital world, Active Theory’s Co-Founder and Interactive Director Michael Anthony chose to team up with Mux — and ultimately was able to offer a dynamic live experience, from a distance.

“We used Mux to deliver the live-stream content to everyone — the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people tuning in to the virtual auditorium,” Michael said. “The thing we really like about Mux is that it gives us the raw HLS stream that we can pipe in and actually access the video element. We can process it in a way that you can't with an iFrame, so we can sample the colors out of the stream and light up the entire world with the colors from the performance.”

Thanks to dev-friendly tools, Active Theory could easily build a way for anyone to create a stream. Michael added, “We've integrated Mux with our CMS. So when the production team wants to take over, they can go into the CMS and create a live stream.”

Blurring the lines between digital and reality

Secret Sky 2020 was a raging success, and Active Theory’s Co-Founder and Creative Director Andy Thelander wanted to turn it up a notch in 2021. “How can we extend out that virtual world even more?” Andy asked. “How do we bridge the virtual experience into physical experiences, so that it's not just isolated to being an online thing?”

Using their Dreamwave platform, the Active Theory team sought to answer those questions and enhance the communal experience. Mux’s flexible architecture was core to allowing online viewers to join the party with attendees at the physical festival in Oakland, California. “[On] platforms like Twitch and YouTube, you can't embed directly into WebGL experience. Mux gives us the opportunity to basically use the Second Sky stream and pipe it directly into the virtual auditorium so that it shows up in 3D,” Andy said. “[It’s] very important to make the entire experience.”

In addition, Active Theory created an on-premise experience at the physical festival in Oakland. Attendees could look through a 3D LED portal into cyberspace, allowing them to connect, speak, and even dance with their digital counterparts around the world.

The future, powered by Mux

“We researched a few different options and Mux was the best as far as cost,” Michael says. “And we realized, oh, it's actually really developer friendly. Like we can actually build on top of this. Once we found Mux, we just started integrating it. So now everything, all the video in the platform, is powered by Mux.”

As Active Theory continues to push boundaries from passive video streaming to meaningful virtual participation, Mux’s low-latency and raw HLS streams serve as the reliable foundation they build on, and out, to push the limits even further.


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