What are you doing with your life? Everyone wants you to have a vision for the future: the motivational guru will tell you about it, for a fee. The barfly has an idea for you. Your buddy is always ready to tell you what’s about to happen. Then one day, you have a conversation and realize you have bumped into the future. It brings you a kernel of an idea that makes sense. This is how the internet happened, not to mention air fryers and airplanes. You pause. “What was that you said? Could you tell me more? Can we connect on Instagram?”
Ideas matter. Apparently, “the metaverse” matters too.
Since March 2020, the Hourglass Sessions have showcased the Richmond music scene thru YouTube. Sometime last year, they started live streaming into the metaverse onto a virtual stage they created. Pretty interesting. I had to dig to find out more. Doing so led me to Hourglass co-founder Tyler Scheerschmidt. Here’s the conversation we had.
Tyler Scheerschmidt: I am a local filmmaker here in Richmond, Virginia, co-founder of Out Of Sight Creative LLC and Hourglass Sessions. And, I’ve been living in Richmond for, oh god, how many years has it been? I believe I’m coming up on six right now. I went to VCU, the arts program, the cinema program, and graduated in 2018. I’ve been working as a freelancer cinematographer and editor ever since.
R. Anthony Harris: When did you know you wanted to get into film and video work?
TS: I’ve got to shout out my dad for this one because he always had the camcorder out when I was growing up. One day back in sixth or seventh grade, my friends and I started messing around with an old camcorder. We just never stopped. It was just a fun thing. We’d get together every weekend. We would shoot these horribly embarrassing little movies. Looking back, that laid in my passion and my love for it. And my friends, they all went on to become actors. Some are living in New York, some living here in Richmond.
As I got older and realized this is something you can make your living with, I started doing it professionally. Filming weddings and local commercials for the coffee shops in town. From there, I went to technical school at Monroe Tech and did the TV program there for two years. [Then] I worked as an assistant editor for a place called The Biscuit Factory, which is a documentary-focused production house in Falls Church.
Since then, I’ve been doing my own thing and [enjoying] the freedom to choose what projects I want to work on. Music is my other passion, and I am a musician. The Hourglass Sessions are a really nice bridge of two passions. It’s a joy to be able to do that.
RAH: Where did the idea for Hourglass Sessions come from?
TS: Well, it came from a regular job. It was, he doesn’t live here anymore, Shy Lennox. Very, very talented guy. He just called me up one day, said, “Hey, I want to shoot a live video in my apartment.” I said “Sure.” It looked fun, let’s do it. After shooting, it dawned on me that I liked the way it was shot. From that one video, the framework was in place for a series that could be continued indefinitely. And I saw the value in that.
My roommate, Dillon Douglasson, saw the value in it too. He wanted to hop on doing the sound work for these. And from there we just decided to do as many as we could. Build them up. Make them as great as possible. And by coincidence, we started right when COVID hit.
We already had two sessions planned. They all got canceled because of the big COVID hit in March 2020. So we were like, “What do we do now? We can’t really do anything.” So instead of just sitting around, we filmed each other in our house. We had a big house. We’re all musicians. We could just continue to prototype this and keep ourselves sane. [Laughs]
So we made five different Hourglass Sessions of ourselves, with songs that we wrote, in different sections in our house. And it was really, really fun. It was good for us to test and get practicing. See how the Hourglass Sessions would function, and like, how they would work. And it was just a really nice creative outlet.
So when bands got more comfortable later in the year, they were seeing what we’re putting on YouTube and we’d reach out to them, or they’d reach out to us. Over time, we started building a catalog.
The video that really set things in motion for us was the Jonathan Facka session. We filmed his Hourglass Session, a live version of “The Tarmac,” at the Richmond Main Street Station. Joey Wharton was on that too. He did some behind the scenes filming or photography for that shoot, and we shot and finished it. From that we realized how big we can make them. We could theoretically take this anywhere. It was a cool moment. And I love that video. Jonathan and I are good friends from it. That’s another thing — these videos have allowed us to become friends and connected with the Richmond music scene. It’s such a great scene with very talented people and just an awesome music scene.
I feel lucky to be doing them here.
RAH: I love that you guys do these sessions and I love that you’re putting on live shows in the metaverse. Can you get into that? How did that happen? And how important do you see that being part of film and video going forward?
TS: I’m glad you brought that up. I think it’s crucial and I think it’s the future. I feel very fortunate to be where we are right now in life. We all know that metaverse is a very new word. It’s a buzzword. It is the new thing. But the future of the metaverse is incredible.
And how to how we got into it and I’d have to thank Matthew Sease. He joined the team in the summer of 2020. Dylan and I have been shooting sessions for awhile and he brought the idea to us to start live streaming bands. At the time, people were live streaming but there was a lack of quality and there was a huge demand for quality live streams because of COVID.
So he came to us with the idea and we were like, “Absolutely, let’s do it!” We did a few live streams and after we had done that, a friend of Matt introduced us to Web3 and the metaverse, and pretty much got us connected with the right people. And through that connection, we were able to start transmitting our streams into a metaverse called decentraland, which is one of the oldest metaverses that exists. One of the big boys, I guess you could say. And yeah, it’s it taken us all by surprise. “Oh, this is… this is really cool.” Like, why not? Let’s stream in the metaverse and see how it goes.
RAH: It kind of sounds like a joke, right?
TS: No, it didn’t sound like a joke. It’s kind of sounds like fun. At the time, it just seemed like a fun thing. Why not? As we did it more and more videos, it dawned on us that this was revolutionary.
And it really is our focus now, the metaverse, and thanks to our friends in decentraland we have our own venue. It’s a digitally constructed music hall called The Hourglass and it lives in the festival district of decentraland. People from all over the world show up during our live streams, not only to enjoy the music but to make new friends. Again, from around the world! You’d be surprised like by how many new people you meet, and how supportive they are of what you’re doing.
And there’s a gamification sense in our streams as well. The audience can participate and feel like they’re a part of the show. That’s been a really big thing. Regular live streaming can feel disconnected because you’re watching it, but not really there. The metaverse is a really great way to increase interaction and make it a bit more immersive.
I’ve lost count of how many streams we have done, but it is a lot, and it’s still very early. We are really excited to see how the next sessions go. How we can continue to bring value, build a community, and honestly provide the best quality live streams that are in decentraland right now.
The other thing is exposing the artists in Richmond to the metaverse. A vast majority of people are not aware of what the metaverse actually is. what Web3 is. It is a nice thing that we are actually able to educate artists and give them a launchpad into this world. Tell them that, hey, this is a career path. A viable, cutting edge, new career path in music industry giving them a new audience in the metaverse.
Like, that’s really cool. And every artist that we’ve had come in is blown away by it. That makes me really happy. I was afraid of what artists would think. This is a totally brand new thing. But everyone has been super-supportive and loving it. They want to learn more. It really piques their interest and they have a fun time on the show. And they’re like, “I gotta learn more about this. What is this world?” And that’s really rewarding for me.
RAH: That’s awesome, Tyler! Really interesting stuff. For people that don’t know, how would they watch an Hourglass Session that is in decentraland? Like, how do you get to be an avatar in there?
TS: We stream to YouTube and the metaverse at the same time. We do provide a link in our Youtube description for easy access. All you really have to do is go to decentraland’s website. To watch our show, you can go in as a guest and watch it or you can make an account and watch it. There are a lot of perks that come with making an account, and we recommend that people make an account.
RAH: You worked on a feature now showing on Amazon Prime. How did you get involved with Welcome To The Show?
TS: I guess I got lucky. I was living with friends who are in the theatre program at VCU, and one of their professors is Dorie Barton. And one day, I was coming home from work and Dorie was sitting in our living room and talking to the guys about this idea. It just kind of went from there. Dorie brought me on, and what an incredible relationship. Everybody on the crew became good friends. That’s how it happened.
RAH: I love that. I love that about Richmond. [Laughs]
TS: Yeah, yeah, I know what you mean. [Laughs]
RAH: I watched Welcome To The Show a few weeks ago. It was fun. Great job.
TS: Thank you, man. Appreciate it.
RAH: What goals do you have for this upcoming year?
TS: Oh, man. It is very Hourglass focused. Honestly, I would say that the main goal right now is making Hourglass a brand and as a company and whatnot. If I had to sum it up, it’s working on a multi-metaverse project — and it’s a very exciting prospect that we are diving headfirst into. Building our community up. Making it bigger, better. Making the best live music entertainment that you can find in the metaverse.
RAH: That’s interesting. You are bridging the real world and bringing entertainment into virtual world — becoming a virtual world production company. Very cool.
TS: We are working on making advances in virtual production, testing, and the technologies that actually come with shooting filming music videos, and finding ways to bridge them into the virtual world. We’re working on that, and we’re really excited.
RAH: Well, I love it Tyler, and we will leave it at that. No need for your secrets to be out in the world! [Laughs] You are providing quality videos for local musicians to use AND taking that onto this new frontier. I really appreciate all that.
TS: I am glad you see the value in that. That excites me the most. Sharing it with the community here in Richmond and keeping everyone up to date. Hey, this is what’s going on! You should know about it. You should be a part of it. It’s really cool. Hop in. Get into the metaverse!
RAH: Honestly in a decade, it might look like Ready Player One. I’m not joking! [Laughs]
TS: I know I am talking about a lot, but it’s so early. We really feel like we’re shaping it ourselves right now. It can be whatever we want to be. We are early to the game and can create the rules and how the game is played. And it is just experiment to have fun and just see what’s possible. I mean, you can do whatever you want. It’s crazy.
RAH: That’s great Tyler. [Pause] And on that note, that’s it for me. You have a great rest of the day. Appreciate you.