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Collingwood teen, former Mini Pop Kid performing in virtual concert reality this week

The second Virtual Concert Reality event is ready for audiences on July 17, featuring pre-recorded performances by 50 teen artists
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Carter Leynes and friend Peyton Garcia performing a song together.

Collingwood teenager Carter Leynes will be featured in a virtual concert on July 17. 

The concert named VCR2 – in reference to “virtual concert reality” – comes after VCR1 in February, and will feature teenage artists including Leynes, in a variety of dancing and singing performances.

“This one is going to be two times larger, last time we had 25 teens and this time we have around 50,” he said.

Leynes is 15 years old and has been performing for nine years, appearing in a national tour with the performing group, Mini Pop Kids as well as at local festivals.

According to VCR2 producer and director Jamie Hodgins, the concert combines virtual imagery which is broadcast on a LED screen along with a variety of physical set pieces like a piano.

After purchasing a ticket viewers can tune in through Live City, an online entertainment streaming platform. From there they can watch the pre-recorded show.

For Leynes, the most challenging part of preparing for the performance was the dancing, something he is not as familiar with.

But choreography is not the only tricky step – recording the songs can be a tough process.

“Being in the studio and recording songs is fairly difficult because you have to bring your A-game,” he said.

But after the preparations are in place, the performance is easier.

Leynes said because of COVID-19 there were not a lot of people in the room during the recording. Just a few cameras, performers and technicians who display the background on the screen.

A lot of work goes into these performances, Hodgins said. Features like props and choreography have to be set in place.

For virtual reality performances, which are usually pre-recorded Hodgins said, different technology can be explored.

“We get to play with camera filters and special effects that are almost too risky to try live,” Hodgins said.

This is not the first time Leynes has done this type of performance.

When VCR1 premiered in February through Live City, Leynes performed and Hodgins was producer and director. Leynes’ friend and former Mini Pop kid, Peyton Garcia, was the headliner. 

But Hodgins and Leynes have had some time to learn from their first performance.

This time around, there is no headliner as each artist will be represented equally.

“Instead of competing against each other to get people’s attention we are working together,” Hodgins said.

Among the artists, Leynes is the only teen to represent Collingwood.

“It's a little nerve-racking trying to be the representative for Collingwood,” Leynes said. “I never thought of myself as one, until now.”

Other than VCR1 a few months ago, this is Leynes chance to perform again after not having much work because of COVID-19. 

Though he loves performing, his pre-performance butterflies are coming back after not being on stage for a while.

Leynes hopes that after people watch it they feel entertained, as well as inspired.

“Maybe [people can] find motivation to do something cool themselves in isolation, and maybe use it as inspiration to get their passion fuelling,” he said.