The idea of combining virtual reality technology and theatrical tradition to create virtual plays has captured artists’ imaginations for some time. Using conventional technology, the use of virtual characters in a theatrical performance often integrates the predefined animations of virtual actors into the theater scene, resulting in a performance that can feel stilted and unresponsive due to its preprogrammed nature. Recently new systems allow actors to animate virtual characters in real time, resulting in a more flexible and interactive theatrical performance experience. Actors are sequestered at a remote site, invisible to the audience, and are digitized by a motion capture system. Using camera feeds to provide the remote actors with information about the behavior of the live actors and audience in the theater, the remote actors can adapt their virtual counterparts’ behavior to react to live events in real-time, giving the illusion to the audience that the virtual characters are responsive to their actions. In this project we are working on various concepts of virtual theater. An example of a virtual theatrical performance called Trickster at the Intersection was presented during Smart Graphics 2010 at Canada’s Banff Centre.
Collaborators: Robyn Taylor, Patrick Olivier, Peter Wright, Guy Schofield, John Shearer, Jayne Wallace (Newcastle University) http://www.humanaquarium.org/