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


TwinLab (Pilot, 2018)

TwinLab Performance, October 25th 2018. Photo by Regula Bearth, ZHdK ©2018

For several years now, the ZHdK has maintained a lively exchange with cultural and educational institutions in Hong Kong. On the occasion of an official visit to the ZHdK from the head of government of Hong Kong, Chief Executive Carrie Lam in January 2018, temporary partner labs were set up in both cities. The goal was to promote interdisciplinarity within a framework of research and development into technology-supported arts.
The resulting TwinLab project is premised upon the availability of the same technical infrastructure at both locations. The cooperation can thus be based primarily on data exchange and be sustainable. Real-time transmissions allow for synchronous experiments and productions.

The first TwinLab project “The Hidden Formula – The Heavenly Palace” was developed in cooperation with the experimental theatre group Zuni Icosahedron which is based in Hong Kong and the two performances could be experienced simultaneously in both locations. The movements of the dancers were recorded at both locations using motion capture technology to create real-time visualizations in a video projection. Despite the geographical distance of over 9000 kilometres and a six-hour time difference, the motion data was transmitted in real time, thus enabling virtual interaction.

Based on Plato’s cave parable, the ZHdK performance “The Hidden Formula” explored mechanisms of suppression and restriction as well as the human will to be free. The piece was made in close dialogue with “The Heavenly Palace” by Zuni Icosahedron, which refers to the 16th century Chinese novel A Journey to the West.
The live performance of “The Hidden Formula” took place on 25 October at the ZHdK in Zurich and simultaneously at the Community Center in Hong Kong and was broadcast live in Zurich’s Bahnhofshalle as part of the Swiss Digital Day.

For data transmission, the TwinLab project relied on the findings and technological developments of the SNF research project “Telematic Performance”, which is housed at the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology (ICST), ZHdK.

Cast & Crew of the ZHdK
Dance: Sophie Bertschy, Alex Ferro, Denise Lampart, Cary Shiu
Choreography: Denise Lampart
Visual Art: Tobias Gremmler
Music: Thierry de Mey
Digital set artist: Martin Fröhlich
Technical crew: Simon Broggi, Martin Fröhlich, Norbert Kottmann, Eric Larrieux, Olav Levrik, Hansruedi Näf, Marc Nathmann, Matthias Röhm, Marco Quandt, Viktoras Zemeckas and many others.
Production management: Andreas Birkle, Kristina Jungic
ZHdK producers: Chantal Haunreiter, Christian Iseli
Project steering: Hartmut Wickert
Project lead: Christian Iseli

Cast & Crew Zuni Icosahedron, Hong Kong
Dance: Chang Yu-chau, Rady Nget
Artistic direction: Danny Yung, Mathias Woo
Digital art: Dan Fong, Benny Woo
Lighting design: Mak Kwok Fai
Music: Steve Hui
Technical assistance: Dan Fong, Benny Woo, Lee Kin Tak, Tso Chi Yan, Ha Yan Pui, Ko Man Kit and many others
Production: Carmen Cheng, Chun Yin Chow, Satina Shum, Leung Kin Kai
Project management: WyWong Yuewai, Cedric Chan