For the first time since its debut in 1611, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest can be seen onstage with all the wonder and magic that the author dreamed of, thanks to a new collaboration between the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Intel and in association with The Imaginarium Studios. The performance includes the first use of a completely digital character in an RSC production, made possible through the use of Xsens MVN motion capture technology.
During the performance, Ariel morphs from a spirit to a water nymph to a harpy. This transformation is achieved by RSC and The Imaginarium Studios capturing the movements of actor Mark Quartley through Xsens motion capture sensors placed within the actor’s costume. When Ariel transforms into something more than human, the actor’s movements are projected onstage and in the air as a digital avatar. The flexibility of the Xsens technology enables the actor to interact directly with cast members in human form, while being able to transform live on stage every night during the play’s run.
To achieve this transformation, The Imaginarium Studios and the RSC used an Xsens MVN system to track the actor’s performance. The data is run through Autodesk’s MotionBuilder software, and from there into Epic’s Unreal Engine 4. The video output is then sent to d3 servers powered by Intel’s® Xeon® processor connected to the RSC lighting desk, which in-turn controls 27 projectors located around the stage.