Video Overlay System

The Video Overlay System, written in Director allowed moving performers in a space to be digitally captured with the background removed, and then the moving performers could be superimposed over any computer model . The chosen computer model could be manipulated in real-time in relation to the videoed moving performers, thus giving the impression onscreen that the moving performer was also moving in the space of the computer model.

The initial intention driving the development of the Video Overlay System was to circumvent the necessity of having to erect the basic stage setup each time we wanted to experiment with RAVEs. (often taking 3 hours in total and requiring full blackout).

However, we found that we discovered more creative relationships when we actually experimented with everything set up as we would for a performance, rather than attempt to extrapolate the combined effect of the real performer immersed in the stage space using the Video Overlay System. Our thinking turned to the importance of presence of the physical performer. This was lost in the screen environment of superposition. Consequently, we adopted the performance laboratory, where the full stage set-up as for performances was created for each rehearsal.

These performance lab sessions informed the further development of the VoS toward the control of the virtual camera in the computer model, with two joysticks operated by an offstage performer, typically Curson. The controlled movement of the virtual camera that is the virtual choreography, inspired by events onstage became able to be stored as timelines. These timelines could be dragged into a number of palettes and executed as and when needed during a performance. The operator, or cyber-dancer by executing the virtual choreographies stored in the palettes in conjunction with extra virtual choreography created using the joysticks, could start to form a creative real-time dialogue with the onstage performers.

Crucially the creative composition processes of PreFlux and Flux provided the impetus for the development of this system. In fact, as research progressed we saw that the technological development was part of the creative process (a phenomenon we call co-creativity). The software in symbiosis with Brian, the developer, 'learnt' new skills and acquired new functionality, just as would a live performer during rehearsal and the composition of a piece would learn new skills. (See Technological Development as Part of Creative Process.)

Indeed, the symbiosis of Brian, operator and developer, with the developing software and hardware allowed for a singular performative entity who created and executed the virtual choreography to emerge in its own right (see Computer as Performer and Cyborg).

The developmental process of VoS concluded with Flux in June 2004 with the design outline for our next software generation, Spider. This outline was explained in 'Towards an Understanding of Software Development and the Choreographic Process'

Related Pages: Bespoke Software | Glossary | Computer as Performer | Co-Creativity | Mediated Environment Control | Masters Dissertation and practical Research | Pre-rendered Video | Computer Model Demo | VC++ | a:Live | RAVEs

alKamie are members of Chisenhale Dance Space.
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