Faster than Night

Posted by DusX on 14 August 2014 | Comments

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Back in April 2014 I was asked to become involved in the production of 'Faster than Night'.
I met with a couple of the people involved in the production of the play and decided it was a good fit for me, and for the use of the beta version of Isadora (Isadora 2.0)
My role: Interactive AV design, system integration, and Isadora Pro user

FTNcollage1 stageshow

Pascal Langdale in Faster than Night. Produced by Digital BlackBox and Motives in Movement with the support of Harbourfront Centre’s HATCH programme, Dynamixyz, and the City of Toronto through Toronto Arts Council. Photo by John Jacques.

The project required numerous real-time display elements, many of which needed to be on screen simultaneously.

With the use of Isadora's new FFGL support, GPU pipeline and HAP codec playback, compositing was easily managed.
The entire show revolved around a realtime 3D avatar of the lead actors head. The render used advance facial tracking to create a believable animation.
The process was very processor heavy and it was decided that it would require its own computer.
We needed a low latency capture solution for HD footage. We turned to Blackmagic Design, their product line was exactly what we needed, and I knew that these products were known to work well with Isadora (although I had not used one before).
It took some time to find the video capture settings that provided the least latency, and one of the biggest issues we faced was setting the facial tracking systems output to match the requirements of the Blackmagic card (we captured via HDMI).
In just a short time I had created a rather complex Isadora file that used a master scene to create the primary compositing for the show.. and secondary scenes to allow very complex combinations of elements throughout the show.

Twitter. The show included audience feedback via twitter. This idea was core to the project, and was something we had considered doing purely within Isadora (see my article on TCP-IP communication) however with our tight time restraints the decision was made to have another staff member port a Processing sketch over for use via Syphon.... so it was done.

To name a few of the realtime elements:

  • HD motion capture input
  • Timer (specific time formatting)
  • Voice actors feed as soundwave (FFGL)
  • Multiple switchable alpha overlays
  • Twitter data via Syphon
  • Animated scrolling text (new Javascript actor)
  • more...

Training.. I provided training to a OCAD grad, Maziar Ghaderi, so that he would be able to both adjust the output via the tools I built into the framework, as well as; add new scenes and content into the project including the framework elements as needed.
And it was needed, I was double booked for Opening night. I needed to be in Montreal for my own show that night so the pressure was on.
Luckily he and I knew what we were doing and once we found the right Input settings for the motion capture feed we were in good shape.

Read much more on the show, the process ,as well as; view a few behind the scenes shot of the crew and myself at work on the Praxis Theatre article page.