At today’s Microsoft Build 2017 presentation, creators at Cirque du Soleil demonstrated a custom creative toolset on stage using HoloLens technology. The world-class theater production company says the tools can be used to greatly enhance and accelerate the set design process for future shows thanks to real-time local digital collaborative design. But, speaking to Microsoft’s self-described Mixed Reality “spectrum,” it was also demonstrated how a remote VR user could seamless collaborate as if they were standing on stage with the others.
As the largest theatrical production company in the world, Cirque du Soleil is famous for its spectacular contemporary circus shows which use huge sets and equipment. When creating a new show, the design process from initial idea to opening performance takes 18 to 24 months, an operation that could significantly benefit from mixed reality tools.
Representing the first ‘deep collaboration’ between Cirque’s innovative C:LAB and Microsoft, the demonstration involved mocking up a prototype set on the Build 2017 stage using a collaborative augmented reality visualisation.
Equipped with HoloLens headsets, Geneviève Pesant, Product Manager at C:LAB and Carl Fillion, Scenic Designer at Cirque, appeared to rapidly construct a set. Objects were created, moved, and resized with a speed and precision that was clearly scripted – forgivable as there was a lot to explain in a limited time. The rendering itself certainly appeared to be running in real-time.
After blocking out some shapes the pair were briefly joined on stage by the VR avatar of Michel Laprise, a writer and director at Cirque based in Europe, who appeared to be speaking to them using one of the new Mixed Reality headsets and motion controllers. While brief, this showed seamless collaboration between AR and VR users, and is representative of why Microsoft likes to lump both types of device into the “Mixed Reality” category.
Chantal Tremblay, Director of Creation at Cirque, said “we’re really happy to be part of this development of Microsoft HoloLens. Innovation for us at Cirque is our priority. Today, as we’re growing faster than ever, and we’re creating more and more shows, we really think that this technology will help us to become more agile”.