A research project on the virtualisation of the live performer

After lot's of experiments - decision time...

It's weird how futile technical problems tend to have a huge impact on a creation process.

An example: we got 15 infrared remote controlled camera's (really cheesy Pentax camera's), and one remote control. The idea is to fire them off all at exactly the same time. That should work fine, in manual focus (otherwise the focussing times will mess up things). The only problem is the remote - it's very directional, firing only one or two camera's at the same time. So we're now trying to build a 'Infra Red remote control amplifier'.

Second year, first week, first trials...

We - Woody Richardson Laurens and Peter Missotten - assembled a small team of students to create a new 'virtual body based' project, which will be part of the first, preliminary PLETA performance at IT's Amsterdam. The Platform of European Theatre Academies (PLETA) is a platform of international and intercultural co-creation. Nine theatre academies participate in this platform to create new experiences in actually working together as young theatre professionals in Europe.
Our (virtual or not) performance will take place in the Underworld, the Hades of the Odysseus.

These first day we made a roundUp of the technologies at our disposal: a 'very-low-budget' rig of 15 point-and-shoot camera's, a self made turning platform, Strata Photo CX and Agisoft Photoscan software, a green screen, a self build fog screen, lot's of smoke and red led light….

So, we scanned Tim - not as easy as we expected (a uniform background is a plus in Strata Photo 3D :), but what looked like a strange blob at first had some kind of resemblance to Tim (no offence). We messed the texture map a bit up, painting his body with text fragments from the Odysseus original.

Every participant presented a solo performance. That's part of the Maastricht way of working: everyone makes a performance from scratch in only a few days. We repeat this a few times during almost every project, creating a huge reservoir of elaborated performance ideas. It's quite amazing how inspiring and original these performances are. All technique and set design (which can be amazingly elaborate) is done by the performers themselves, often involving video projections and quite complicated light/sound designs.
Every performance becomes the nucleus of a new idea, sometimes becoming a corner stone of the final performance. Because everything is immediately worked out in practice, these ideas are feasible, not just remote day dreams. The speed of creating is driving force in a lot of Maastricht performance projects.

The technical craftsmanship - aside of their artistic signature - of the performers (however diverse their field of expertise) is a foundation for the final project.

Next week we'll make new - and hopefully better - scans of the performers, testing out the smoke screen, and making brand new performances.