A Midsummer Night’s Dream – RSC

12 – 20 March 2021

Official website: https://dream.online/home/

Collaboration between the Royal Shakespeare CompanyManchester International Festival, Marshmallow Laser Feast and Philharmonia Orchestra

A live performance using actors to drive the performance of digital avatars. 
Vicon motion capture cameras are used with Vicon’s Shogun software to capture the performances, which are then combined with backgrounds and environments created in Unreal Engine (software used in video game design). Theatre lighting equipment is used in the motion capture space, as well as virtual lighting within the digital environment. 

From the RSC website:

Building on the technology used in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s groundbreaking 2016 production of The Tempest, the first play to feature live performance capture rendered in Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, Dream brings together live performance, virtual production and gaming technology. 
The show is performed by actors in a specially created motion capture space at Portsmouth Guildhall, with the support of a team from the University of Portsmouth. Vicon motion capture cameras and state of the art facial rigging capture the movements of the performers. This drives the virtual avatars of each of the characters in real time through a traditional performance lighting desk into Unreal Engine. The live performance is mixed with pre-recorded animation sequences.
Audience Plus ticket holders interact with the performance using the touchscreen, trackpad or mouse on their devices. The actors perform and respond to audience interaction and direction, making each performance unique.
A bespoke web-player enables real-time content to be distributed from individual audience members to the Unreal Engine server and back to the audience. 

Dream features a symphonic score based on recordings by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor Esa-Pekka Salonen. The recordings are expanded by music created in real time by the movements of the performers. This living, dynamic soundtrack adapts and interacts with the narrative and the pre-recorded orchestral tracks. 

Dream features core classical repertoire and two contemporary orchestral works – excerpts from Gemini, one of Salonen’s latest compositions, and Ärr, composed by Swedish composer Jesper Nordin. The music was recorded by the Orchestra, conducted by Salonen, on Friday 13 March 2020, the last full-scale orchestral recording, involving 100 players, before the pandemic struck.

Nordin is the creator of the groundbreaking interactive music tool Gestrument, giving parts of Dream an interactive musical layer. Gestrument allows the performers to generate music from their movements. This real-time generated music can be shaped by the performers but will always be in perfect sync with the pre-recorded orchestral score.

Additional Information


Is This An Avatar I See Before Me (February 2021)
[External Website]

LSI: Living the Dream (May 2021)
[External Website]
From Lighting & Sound International