A Q&A With Illusionist

Illusionist, an award-winning multimedia solutions studio based in Istanbul, have been using motion capture technology on many of their large scale projects. We caught up with Founder, Ahmet Gurbuz and Creative Director, Serdar Korkmaz after wrapping their latest project – the 2019 Newroz celebrations in Tajikistan.

Can you introduce Illusionist? What is your mission or goal?

We’re a digital arts studio based in Istanbul. Our aim is to design unique experiences that portray multiple perspectives to the audience; we achieve this by combining performance, technology, and digital arts.

On of our recent projects is the 2019 Tajikistan Newroz Celebration:

How were the 2019 Newroz celebrations project briefed into you? 

Newroz is a traditional spring celebration of the New Year and it’s very important to the Tajik nation. So, they asked us to design a thrilling stage show to celebrate the day. 

Were there any challenges faced during production? And which elements of the performance used motion capture?  

The biggest challenge that we were tasked with was to produce a two-hour show within one month—we worked with 2000 dancers on a huge stage, holding rehearsals on repeat to ensure the interactivity between performances and the animations on the screen remained consistent.

We mainly used motion capture in the opening show which consisted of four parts. We created 3D character designs for each part and choreographed a musical dance act in a music box with motion capture for the opera section. 

Five minutes of the performance was live on stage and around four and a half were pre-recorded.

Have you used motion capture for previous productions? And when did you begin using Xsens as a solution?

We’ve used motion capture for many of our large scale projects to date, and there are two projects in particular that achieved great results. Our work on All-Star Istanbul 2018’s Opening Show won two prizes including, ‘Best Use of Technology’ at the Event Technology Awards and for ‘Communication Design’ at the Red Dot Awards. We created this show via 3D mapping and motion capture to offer an immersive multimedia experience for the audience at the event. All of the animation during the show was synchronized with the performer by staging virtual choreography. The most important aspect of the performance was a virtual dance group using the performer’s motion data with mo-cap technology. The huge virtual characters in the show were inspired by the ING BANK’s brand image, which is identified with basketball.

It was the first time we used Xsens in 2017 on a live-event project for Arçelik, a well-known household appliances brand from Turkey. We created a 3D character live on stage that spoke with a famous Turkish comedian, CemYılmaz. We won two Platinum Awards at the Hermes Creative Awards for ‘Use of Technology’ and ‘Interactive Brand Experience’ on our Real-Time Motion Capture Hologram. 

We’ve developed an intricate knowledge of the technology and we’re always looking at innovative ways to apply mo-cap to our projects. It’s life-saving to have Xsens technology when designing and creating sophisticated choreographies. 

How did your experience of using MVN Animate differ from other mocap solutions you had tried in the past?

It’s very user-friendly software. Even when capturing extreme movements for the mo-cap artist, the data output is clean, succinct, and the processing speed is reliably streamlined. This gives us amazing scope to be expansive during the idea phase with complete creative freedom. And after all of the hard work the team has put into the project, it’s satisfying to see all the components running smoothly—the work really paid off.

We loved using Xsens to breathe life into four giant 3D characters—all 20meters tall!