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Shakespeare's The Tempest

Vicon cameras enable The Royal Shakespeare Company to create the first live motion capture theatre performance

Oxford, UK – 18 November 2016 – Vicon, the motion capture technology specialist for the entertainment, engineering and life science industries, today announced that one of its motion capture systems and powerful object tracking solution, Tracker will be used for the upcoming theatre production of The Tempest.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in collaboration with Intel and in association with The Imaginarium Studios, is creating a new production of The Tempest starring Simon Russell Beale as Prospero. The innovative production will mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and go down in history as the first live motion capture performance featured in a major stage production.

Motion capture technology is used heavily throughout the performance and the production team will use Vicon’s optical camera system to track the whereabouts of moving objects on stage, some of which will be held by the actors. Vicon cameras will also capture various screens during the performance, informing the production team of their movements on and around the stage. Due to its precision tracking capabilities the Vicon system will provide the animation team with real-time feedback, allowing them to have complete visibility of the objects on stage as well as managing interactions between the cast.

With the addition of augmented reality to the performance, an added layer of complexity is presented. It was important for THE RSC to have a mocap system in place which would accurately inform the other technical elements of the production. In order to create this consistency, a Vicon system will be tracking screens as well as moving objects during the performance. The data processed by the Tracker software using Intel® Xeon® and Intel® Core™ i7 processors will not only inform the lighting software and drive the spotlights for the performance, but also enable the augmented reality aspect of the production – allowing objects to become projected onto screens in real-time. To enable this innovative use of technology, Vicon and d3 technologies have developed a bespoke software solution allowing the data generated by Tracker to drive d3’s software using the PosiStageNet protocol – an industry standard which is used to drive interactive effects and lighting on stage.

“We are using Vicon cameras and Tracker software to track moving objects and actors for projection mapping and light tracking. In order to realise this, we’ve been working with the Vicon and d3 Technologies to develop a plug in application of PosiStage.Net. This will mean that both video and light tracking will be sharing the same tracking data protocol from the Vicon camera system.” said Pete Griffin, RSC Production manager on The Tempest.

Ben Lumsden, Head of Studio at The Imaginarium Studio added: "This theatrical production of The Tempest will see never before used technology on stage. This live spectacle, which starts today, has been further enhanced by bringing in the expertise of Vicon and the use of their cameras, which adds greatly to the audiences' experience.”

‘Combining one of Shakespeare’s most renowned plays with innovative, augmented reality driven by Vicon technology signals a change in theatre production and traditional media,’ said Imogen Moorhouse, CEO, Vicon. ‘It’s important to continue to innovate in motion capture and The Royal Shakespeare Company have demonstrated just how versatile the technology is when used to ignite the imagination of theater goers old and new.”

Image: The Tempest production photos press call 2016
Photo by Topher McGrillis (c) RSC 207566

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