A delightful surreal music vr experience featuring chrome cats, champagne, and robots

Viacom NEXT presents Chocolate, a room-scale VR experience where you are a dancing robot leading delightfully chrome dancers to the beat of a world where everything is synchronized to the music of Chocolate by Giraffage. Chocolate premiered to critical and popular acclaim at Sundance 2017, going on to tour at 18 major festivals globally and winning the Artistic Achievement Award at Unity Vision Summit 2017, as well as the Best User Experience at the World VR Forum 2017. 

The Challenge

With MTV having defined the music video genre in the 1980’s, it was virtually mandated that Viacom NEXT  explored the future of what music videos could become.

In tandem, we were exploring new revenue generating opportunities which included a publishing model that supported independent creators, many of whom we had identified as being responsible for the most exciting work in the space at the time.

Our first choice was Tyler Hurd, whose work we had been following for a while. We even secretly flew down to San Francisco to surprise him with a deal. True story. 

The Concept

In setting up the precedent for a publisher-developer relationship, we laid down concrete and transparent principles of engagement: clearly articulated milestones,  unparalleled logistical and administrative support, and full creator autonomy.

Tyler made it clear that he had wanted to invent and experiment with new ways at evoking visceral joy and delight. The nature of the images, the patterns and colors were merely his tools to bring all of us there.

And so we have giant cat heads pulsating to chrome mountains, robot hands exulting in a rain of kittens..


“Finally a VR developer gets it: we just need cats and champagne” – The Verge
“Virtual reality dreams, spaceship rides premiere at Sundance”- SF Chronicle
How To Make VR That People Really, Really Like (Hint: Don’t Forget The Kittens)” – Forbes
“The Best VR On Display At This Year’s Sundance Film Festival”- Forbes
“Chocolate is The Most Fun You Can Have with Three Legs and Kitten-Cannon Hands” – VR Scout
“Preview: VR Music Video ‘Chocolate’ by Director Tyler Hurd is a Slice of Pure Psychedelic Joy” – Road To VR
“At SXSW, VR hits a new rhythm”- CNET
“Viacom’s Take on Virtual Reality: Room-Scale, Original and Fun” Variety
“Virtual Reality Projects Chocolate, Show It 2 Me, and Fistful of Stars on Display at SXSW” – Crescent Vale
VR Music Video Sensation ‘Chocolate’ Unwrapped- Animation Magazine
Virtual Reality Toons Steal the Spotlight at SIGGRAPH – Animation Magazine

My Role: Executive Producer

Together with Rob Ruffler, I acted as the EP of the project with Viacom NEXT. That involved managing the relationship with Tyler Hurd and his producer Adam Rogers, setting milestones for feedback and progress check ins, as well as managing the overall material resources of the project and coordinating contract negotiations, planning launch strategy, and managing digital store relationships and compliance; all in tandem with the help of Viacom’s internal marketing, business affairs and legal units.

It is a bit of an understatement to say that that was all we did, however. Where necessary, we were also Tyler’s coach on the ground, his representatives when he wasn’t around (alongside being representatives of Viacom NEXT) and dare I say it – a friendly pillar of support for all things logistical, legal, and psychological. 

I’d like to think we carried the same spirit the A&R folks did in the earlier days of MTV when labels were younger and required producers who had one foot in corporate, and the other on the same peated floors as the artists themselves.  – Ask me in person and I might tell you some stories. Those are best not left in print.


Presented by Viacom NEXT
A VR Experience by Gentle Manhands

Executive Producers, Viacom NEXT
Chaki Ng
Rob Ruffler
David Liu

Tyler Hurd

Adam Rogers
Concept Artist
Jesse Balmer
3D Artist
Frederik Storm
VFX Artist
John Zwicker
Animator & Programmer
Tyler Hurd

Poster Design
Minhyul Bae

Original Recording
Chocolate by Giraffage
from No Reason
© 2014 Fool’s Gold Records

Special Thanks
Melesande Perera
David Farrell
Joseph Virskus
Mac Lotze

Chocolate at SXSW
Chocolate delighting at South by Southwest
Tyler being interviewed at Sundance
Creator Tyler Hurd being interviewed at the Sundance New Frontiers