Immersive Arts Space

The Immersive Arts Space is a university-wide art/tech lab that serves as a research, teaching and production platform. With innovative and multidisciplinary projects, the team of the IASpace conducts a technologically-supported artistic examination of digital immersion, mixed realities and the convergence of media-based and performative practices. The activities in the IASpace are oriented towards contemporary aesthetic and methodological directions in international design and art and are primarily based on artistic (practice-based) research.

The key areas of the Immersive Arts Space are motion capture, projection mapping, volumetric capture and spatial audio. The equipment is characterized by a juxtaposition of highly professional technology on the one hand and consumer products on the other. Open source software is an important aspect in the development of new projects.


Illuminated Flying Objects

Interdisciplinary workshop with BA students (Z-module), Aug/Sept. 2020

Over the course of two weeks, groups of students from different art and design programs, conceived and constructed helium drones (airships or balloons with drone navigation control) and developed a spatial installation concept including a 3D sound design. The illumination of the helium drones is achieved either by remote controlled moving lights or by projection mapping. The movement of the drones is controlled by a computer-aided tracking system.

The Z-module with the German title Tanz der fliegenden Lichtobjekte resulted in a variety of exciting flying objects, including a large floating manta ray. The workshop is based on the findings and methods of the artistic research project Helium Drones.

Teaching staff:
Martin Fröhlich (Immersive Arts Space)
Roman Jurt (Design & Technology Lab)
Nadia Fistarol (MA&BA stage design)
Johannes Schütt (Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology)


Helium Drones

Photo by Lars Kienle, ZHdK ©2019

The Helium Drone project seeks to explore the aesthetic properties of installations based on floating devices that can autonomously navigate in space. In its complete state it will be a flocking swarm of diverse drones in different forms and shapes, each behaving in its individual way and interact with each other and the spectators on the ground. It will use the tracking system for location and navigation and the projection mapping system to wrap them into dynamically created ‘skins’.

A technological groundwork is laid out, with the goal to design a framework to quickly prototype and build helium drones with different shapes and propulsion concepts that integrate easily with the current technical setup of the IASpace. This involves the research for suitable materials and processes to build the floating volume, design of mechanical structures, electronics and network protocols, the evaluation and testing of motor and servos and the integration of motion and sensor data for autonomous flying capabilities (among many other things).

Involving many different skills, from designing and building physical structures to programming behaviors and creating interactive textures that are projected onto the creatures, it will be attractive to a wide spectrum of disciplines and a playground to experience multidisciplinary teamwork. There will also be an open source toolkit with instructions that can be made accessible to the public.

Photo by Lars Kienle, ZHdK ©2019

A spin-off of the Helium Drones project was presented at the REFRESH conference: A short performance with the title Floating in Dancing Lights.

CREW

Project lead, motion tracking, projection mapping: Martin Fröhlich
Robotics, motion control, sensor integration: Max Kriegleder
Micro-controller, networks, protocols: Joel Gähwiler
Materials, rapid prototyping, construction: Roman Jurt
Theory: Serena Cangiano


Home in the Distance

Home in the Distance is based on a short story, written by director and vfx artist Andreas Dahn when he was about 17 years old. In his residency at the Immersive Arts Space he turns his story into a 3D animated short film.

In contrast to the traditional animation and vfx workflow, which is heavily based on storyboarding and previsualization, the conscious decision was made to leave out these steps, in order to find out if new technologies make it possible to create a more emotional and spontaneous film experience.  

The character was sculpted by hand with dough and photogrammetry was used to create the virtual model. Rigging was done with Human IK in Autodesk Maya. Students from the 3D Akademie Stuttgart helped to model the set and props. In addition, an actor`s performance was motion-captured with OptiTrack in the IASpace at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). The camera work will be done with a VR tool, developed by Mirko Lempert (Stockholm University ot the Arts) and Simon Alexandersson (Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm) and rendered in realtime in Unity.

Andreas Dahn (writer and director) on the left, with Pascal Holzer (actor) on the right, during MoCap recording.

Crew at ZHdK
Cast: Pascal Holzer
Mocap coaching: Corinne Soland
Mocap recording: Norbert Kottmann
Further ZHdK support: Valentin Huber, Robin Disch, Marco Quandt, Lucien Sadkowski, Andreas Birkle, Chantal Haunreiter, Claudia Hürlimann, Thomas Gerber, Stefan Jäger,  Martin Fröhlich

ZHdK Residency
The residency at the Zurich University of the Arts has been made possible by the Ernst Göhner Foundation, Switzerland, as well as by additional support of the ZHdK film program (led by Sabine Boss) and by the Immersive Arts Space (led by Prof. Christian Iseli).

Crew at 3D Akademie Stuttgart
Props & set modeling & texturing: Gerrit Gaietto, Katharina Rodak, Kimberly Niesner Pierre Urbanek (Head of 3D Akademie)

Further crew members
Unity VR support: Mirko Lempert, Simon Alexanderson
Junior producer: Jana Günther
Assistent director: Aimée Torre Brons
Sound design: Luis Schöffend, Marc Fragstein
Title design: Timo Kreitz
Screenplay translation: Karen Ma
Special thanks: David Maas, Renate Schirrow, Ella Steiner, Felix Bucella, Alireza Sibaei, Astrid Weitzel 


Performance Capture Workshop

Neil Newbon and participants during the workshop. ZHdK © 2019

The UK based company Performance Captured Academy (PCAUK) was invited to introduce the basics of Motion and Performance Capture to the participants. Neil Newbon, Performance Capture Artist and Director together with his team gave an inspiring look into the possibilities of creating characters through body language. The participants got used to their tracked body movement, played with different somatic types and shapes and learned a new on set vocabulary. Creature work as well as basic walk cycles were part of the training.The workshop endend with a performance of Newbon at the Actor/Avatar conference, where he invited performers from the workshop to join in.

The technical setup included the motion capture tracking system, guaranteeing real time performance of up to eight virtual characters in virtual environments. Furthermore, a face performance tracking system was used with a face rigging software.

Cast & Crew
Performance Capture Mentor Team: Neil Newbon, Saleta Losada, Frazer Blaxland (PCAUK)
Motion Capture & Unity: Tobias Baumann, Norbert Kottmann, Benjamin Thoma, Oliver Sahli, Chris Elvis Leisi
Overall Support: Martin Fröhlich
Project Lead: Corinne Soland


Contact

Zurich University of the Arts ZHdK
Immersive Arts Space 
Pfingstweidstrasse 96
CH-8005 Zurich

immersive.arts@zhdk.ch
+41 43 446 53 53

Location map

Immersive Arts

Chair
Prof. Christian Iseli

Chantal Haunreiter: Manager
Kristina Jungic: Space producer
Sébastien Schiesser: Space technician
Corinne Soland: Motion capture coach
Nadja Kirchhofer: Administrative assistant

Research & Development
Martin Fröhlich: Operating lead / projection mapping
Tobias Baumann: Motion capture / face capture
Florian Bruggisser: Volumetric capture / 3D laser scanning
Valentin Karl Huber: Virtual production / photogrammetry
Norbert Kottmann: Virtual production / previsualization
Eric Larrieux: 3D audio / interactive audio
Chris Elivis Leisi: Virtual reality / game applications
Aguirre Patxi Exequiel: Animation / tech workflows
Oliver Sahli: Virtual reality / game applications
Stella Speziali: Projection mapping / visual concepts

Immersive Arts on Vimeo

https://vimeo.com/immersivearts

Immersive Arts @ ZHdK Intranet

Members of the ZHdK can find additional information on technical equipment, support services and project registration here: https://intern.zhdk.ch/iaspace

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