Magical virtual tour of Abbey Road


Published: Wednesday 15th April 2015 by The News Editor

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It has the most famous zebra crossing in the world outside it, and has hosted every major name in music in the last 80 years, but Abbey Road Studios has never before been open to the public.

Despite receiving around 500,000 visitors a year, most to walk the famous crossing, the studio doors have been shut to those not recording ever since 1931 – that is, until now, and a new collaboration with Google.

The result is Inside Abbey Road, a new web app that takes users on an interactive, immersive and hugely detailed virtual tour of the inner workings of Abbey Road.

The studios hosted the world’s first live global broadcast – from none other than The Beatles – as well as playing a role in the invention of stereo by EMI engineer Alan Blumlein.

With the aim of sharing some of this history, Google has stepped in to showcase as much of it to the public as possible, in a range of ways.

Those familiar with Google Street View will find plenty they are used to in the way Inside Abbey Road is navigated, with a point and click of the mouse, as well as click and drag to scan the more than 150 360-degree images that make up the experience.

But these are only the top layer to the app, which then has several animated sequences in place of images that show sound technicians at work in the three studios and mastering suite.

Then added to this are a range of information points in the form of short articles on subjects ranging from cutting vinyl records to creating stereo.

There are archive photos from Abbey Road down the years, as well as YouTube videos of performances that are placed in the exact spot they were filmed from.

These include music videos from the likes of Take That, Kate Bush and Bastille, as well as an interview between Zane Lowe and Jay Z.

Giles Martin, a producer based at Abbey Road for artists like Paul McCartney, and whose father Sir George Martin produced The Beatles, said: “Abbey Road Studios has been a hive of creativity and source of world-class recordings for more than 80 years.

“The artists using the studios have sold countless millions of records and have helped create popular culture as we know it today. It’s an inspirational place and an honour for me to work there today.

“This collaboration with Google gives the outside world a great insight into the everyday workings of the studio and allows anyone to glimpse the magic that goes on inside the world’s most famous recording studio.”

Tom Seymour, the head of Google’s Creative Lab, said: “We’re always looking at how we can use technology to bring people closer to cultural icons and institutions around the world.

“With Inside Abbey Road, we wanted to open the doors to the iconic music studio for anyone in the world to step inside and experience the stories, the sounds, the people and the equipment that make Abbey Road Studios what it is today.”

There are also guided tours voiced by producer Mr Martin, as well as from DJ and presenter Lauren Laverne and Abbey Road Studios’ head of audio products Mirek Stiles.

One of the most eye-catching moments within the app is the animated panorama that places users at the centre of the London Symphony Orchestra as they perform in one of the studios.

Google are calling the new site a continuation of their tradition of creating tools which help users see and experience things they would never have had access to otherwise.

It follows in the footsteps of the Pyramids of Giza being added to Google Street View, and the Google Cultural Institute’s work on Vincent Van Gogh.

There are also some gaming-style interactions to play with, including the J37 track recorder that was used to record Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – which can be interacted with to create your own version of audio tracks, to try to match against the original.

For music fans, there is a huge amount of detail and history to be unearthed from using the new app, and for general users there is the ability to use it across devices, and probably find out something new in the process.

Users can try the experience by visiting

Published: Wednesday 15th April 2015 by The News Editor

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