Media Release: Virtual Tour

Virtual Tour: Putting the Audience in Control of Live Performance

A world-first interactive installation that enables people, via a touch screen, to conduct and play with the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO), is inviting audiences to experience live performance through next generation interactive cinema.

The installation 'ACO VIRTUAL – Play with the band' fuses digital technologies with visual and sonic innovation to bring classical music to new audiences.

Created by digital media production pioneers, Michela Ledwidge and Mish Sparks at Mod Productions, the installation’s media launch was at Sydney’s MCA on 24 September 2013.

Using a creative fusion of interactive elements, Mod’s Virtual Tour format can be used in a range of contexts including gallery spaces, dome theatres, flat screens and mobile devices, with all genres of music, performance or demonstration. The format can be used and adapted to heighten live performance experience in unexpected ways.

Michela Ledwidge, director of ACO VIRTUAL and co-founder of Mod Productions explained how the interactive nature of their creation will elevate the experience of the audience:

"Thirteen stereoscopic 3D camera rigs were used to record each musician. Thanks to this performance-capture technique we can isolate and manipulate the image of each individual performer. We used technologies that strategically place the audience in control of the orchestra’s performance. Audiences and visitors essentially step ‘inside’ a performance and are immersed in a cinematic experience, surrounded by the performers."

More like a video game than a movie, the audience can use the controller, embedded in a stand, to control and remix the show with up to 39 video files playing simultaneously.

Ledwidge continued, "The main app is the show control rig that powers interactive 13K visuals (over thirteen thousand pixels wide) across seven High Definition displays along with interactive audio from a 7.1 audio speaker system that positions the sound of each musician to where they are displayed."

Venues can choose either the 2D or the 3D version and Mod Productions uses their own online production platform to manage and support the show as it travels. The presentation of interactive 3D content requires some additional staging and logistics considerations, not least the provision of 3D glasses to each audience member.

Michela Ledwidge added, "The primary aim of the project is to reach new audiences, so our production team has put together an affordable hire kit with DLP projectors that can be toured across regional Australia. Video display technology is a fast moving area - it will only get easier to stage this kind of content."

ACO VIRTUAL, which is the perfect fusion of audio-visual technology, art and music performance, features thirteen musicians appearing as projections on gallery walls or other public spaces, while the music of each individual musician is heard from the direction of their projection. Using the touch screen app, the audience can spotlight sound and visuals, highlighting one particular musician, a section of instruments or create their own mix of players. They can even display the sheet music for each musician.

The build of the interactive work commenced with the production of a pilot interactive video installation, where four of the orchestra's musicians were filmed performing, as well as companion apps. The success of the pilot saw the project expanding in 2011 to feature 13 members of the orchestra in a 13-camera, 3D film shoot.

The entire ensemble was filmed against green-screens to capture audio and stereoscopic video of each individual artist. CG volumetric lighting was then added in post production and four different mobile app products were developed to make up the multi-platform interactive user experience. Ledwidge explains "We evaluated and used a lot of technology on this project but if we've done our job right the audience will neither know or care."

The team benefited from close collaboration with local and international experts during the long project including sound designer Simon Lear, cinematographer and VFX specialist Paul Nichola, the iCinema Centre (UNSW) and derivative (Toronto).

The installation will be touring Australia and the world, bringing world-class musicians closer to those who would not normally have access to such classical music and performance.

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For more information and image requests, contact:

Mish Sparks
Tel: +61 2 8003 4811
Mob: +61 403 705 785


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