Virtual Acting, Studio and Institute

In the world of ‘Virtual Acting’ we are principally busy with virtual creations and characters, these act as people, and are controlled by data, real people or a combination of the two.

The Virtual Acting Studio produces immersive cinema in which innovative concepts are brought to life using cutting-edge technologies, such as volumetric capture, VR and AI. From this filmic research we gather knowledge about the possibilities these technologies bring when it comes to our evolution from physical people to virtual humans (in media). The Virtual Acting Institute uses this knowledge to find answers to social and ethical questions related to the realm of Virtual Acting; deep fakes for instance.

Together with international partners and advisors, Cassandra de Klerck (cassandradeklerck.com) began building ‘Virtual Acting’ in October 2017. During her time making VRfilms she had been in the perfect position to witness how acting was changing. This has proved to be just the first step in a massive acceleration in the development and use of virtual humans (as opposed to physical ones), in all sorts of other media. In the years that followed, Virtual Acting made a natural split into the Virtual Acting Studio and the Virtual Acting Institute.

The Virtual Acting Studio produces immersive cinema. In order to bring our concepts and stories to life the first step is script writing, followed by the development of characters. We use real-life actors as the basis for our virtual ones, and place them in a 3D modelled or captured world (via photogrammetry). With the Unreal game engine we bring character and environment together. We can then add interactivity, which immediately opens up the opportunity to explore the effects of AI in this context. Working from Unreal we can distribute via traditional film formats but also VR and AR.

We understand just how complex the world of Virtual Acting can be, by partnering with other experts in the field we seek to share best practice across all disciplines involved in the process. We’re proud to already have the support and collaboration of: OCG immersive Studio, 4DR studio, The Virtual Dutchmen, Effenaar Eindhoven, Mindshow LA, the Radboud University Nijmegen, VRbase Amsterdam, Headjack, the Film Academy Amsterdam, EYE film Institute, the innovation team of the Dutch Consulate in San Francisco and financial support of Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO), Provincie Noord Holland, Chronosphere and ‘friends of Virtual Acting’. We are always open to new partnerships and friends.

Above all we are keen to create and maintain a space for experimentation, discussion and pushing boundaries; and to share this with people who have the same ambitions. This is why we organise various masterclasses based on our practical knowledge. We distinguish between classes purely on film and those concerning the area of media and society.

From the very outset we used the perspective of actors, a human perspective, to critically examine the technologies we are using. As early as this 2017 blog, you can clearly see that the starting point was the acting and what actors have to offer. That arose from this early vision:

“Taking as a starting point,
that AI means: ‘acting like a human’, (Brooklyn.sci: Foundations of AI acting humanly), we need to consider what a ‘human’ is from a psychological standpoint. One group of professionals who are continuously delving into the depths of the human psyche and the properties of being human are actors. You can only play another person if you have a good understanding of what makes a person human and how you can reenact or manipulate that.”

It takes a lot to successfully bring a believable person (character) to life, including a well developed imagination, emotional facility, physical expressivity, vocal projection, clarity of speech, and the ability to interpret drama. Acting also demands an ability to employ dialects, accents, improvisation, observation and emulation. Convincingly acting like a person, (without even being a human), will continue this challenge into the future. Technological developments have come so far as to challenge us to evaluate our very being, and how interesting is that?

If you want to stay up to date with Virtual Acting’s latest developments, you can sign up for our newsletter.

Talk soon,

Cassandra 
© Virtual Acting

The Virtual Acting Institute (2019)

Will actors one day be immortal? And in what way will the future of acting be impacted by technical breakthroughs like VR/AR and AI?

If you look at Magic Leap´s demo of ‘Mica’, a human like artificial intelligence that can be viewed through the company’s augmented reality glasses, these aren’t just interesting questions for the future, but rather vitally important questions for the present. But where can we explore them, and find a place to learn, discuss and experiment within this rapidly expanding field?

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The Virtual Acting Institute ® offers filmic research, consultancy and training to answer these questions. We understand just how complex the world of Virtual Acting can be, by partnering with other experts in the field we seek to share best practice across all disciplines involved in the process of building credible characters and accelerate learning. We’re proud to already have the support and collaboration of: The Virtual Dutchmen, Mindshow LA, the Radboud University, VRbase Amsterdam, Purple Pill, VRacademy Amsterdam, Mindset, the Film Academy Amsterdam, EYE film Institute, IDFA doclab academy, the innovation team of the Dutch Consulate in San Francisco.

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Why the Virtual Acting Institute?
Our mission is to share knowledge, inspire and to bring people in this field together. We want to offer a place where we can experiment, do research and discuss ethics.

By using the method created by The Virtual Acting Institute ® we teach actors to level up their imaginative work; to anticipate action within non-literal environments; to work with other characters who may not actually be physically present; to act, interact and react within virtual situations. This method is based on scientific research, six years of practical VR experience and the expertise of fantasy writers, psychologists, and actors.

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Want to keep up to date with our initiatives, masterclasses and all the other interesting stuff that’s going on in the world of Virtual Acting? Then sign up for the newsletter here: virtualacting.com/signup

Speak to you soon,

Cassandra

© Virtual Acting

What makes Virtual Acting stand out among the things we already know? (2018)

Virtual Acting has been around for six months now. The question I got asked the most is “what makes Virtual Acting stand out amongst the other forms of acting we already know?”. And since this is a topic I can keep talking about for hours I thought it would be a good time to follow up on my last post :D.

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To put it bluntly: Virtual Acting uses the opportunity that new technologies offer us as actors and develops methods & tools to help actors play a virtual character in a convincing way. The easiest way to explain why this is valuable is using a real-life example. Check this clip from Andy Serkis, where he talks about his role in Planet of the Apes:

In this video Andy Serkis explains that his role as one of the apes is still about acting, he mentions that it is about optimizing the use of your imagination, and about the ability to create something new and make it come to life. These are interesting aspects which VA uses as a basis for their courses and tools. Andy also mentions that he still uses his fellow actors in order to improve his credibility. But how do you make your acting credible when you’re the only actor in the studio? And what if the viewer is your invisible co-actor, and you are responsible for giving them an immersive and interactive experience? And what if you no longer act in a single frame, but in a 360 space? All these questions are getting more and more interesting as new technologies like VR and AR keep improving.

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Where Andy Serkis’ acting class ends, Virtual Acting starts. VA teaches, casts and develops for the new storytelling field. It’s all about how we can translate the soul and unique capabilities of actors into the new technologies and (new) forms of interactive storytelling, like VR, AR, gaming and (360)movie. Therefore the prime focus is on the crossroads between writing, directing, acting and developing – the credibility of the characters. Most importantly, the characters that originated in our imagination.

I think we need to put humanity into technology – the soul. 

If you like to learn more about Virtual Acting you can follow our course. We focus on the XR-dash method, interactivity, space, 360 movies and Motion Capture. In this course, we will use technology like the Nokia OZO camera, HTC Vive and the Xsens body suit. The goal of our training is to help you understand the new media better and to find tools to work with.

Are you interested in following a course, check the Course link.

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The new playing field
So, is this all just fun and games or is it actually useful? Great question! What I love about VA is that I can get the most out of my imagination by using these new technologies. There are no more limits except your own imagination. Other than the fact that I love it there is a growing market for these kinds of things. This is mainly because movies and games are getting more and more similar, and VR and AR are brand new media where Virtual Acting is quickly becoming relevant. More importantly, the future is already here when you look at the short film ADAM by Neill Blomkamp, check the link for the making of.

ADAM is realtime virtual cinema and is made with a game-engine: Unity. Movies and games are literally merging into a new form of entertainment. In order to create something like this they had to capture an emotional performance in 3D and place it on a realtime character that most people associate with gaming. Actress Carly Pope explains (7:00 into the video) that

‘these are the most bizarre days I’ve ever had on work, it’s like the best because it’s so unusual to don’t have the constraints of all the other things. For me it’s imaginative, creative and it has really no bound’.

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The love affair of the future
VA works closely with developers, digital artists and animators. They are the ones who can bring our fantasies to life, while we (the actors) put the heart and soul into these digital characters. Through cooperation and working together on technical tools, stories and hardware I believe we can tell the most amazing stories, that touch and amaze.

Do you love to work with your fantasy, and you want to know more about VA or you want to stay posted by VA, please feel free and send a message!  Contact

See you soon!

Cassandra

Virtual Acting, the idea (2017)

My name is Cassandra, at the moment I am directing and writing for Purple Pill  (headjack.io). With a cool team  we develop Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality projects. For one of these projects I was looking for the right actors, so I visited a casting agency in Amsterdam and someone there asked me if there is such a thing as a training program for acting in VR/AR. My answer, no I train them myself.

On my way home  – cycling of course, like a proper Dutchie – I suddenly thought about opportunities and got lost . I stopped at an unknown place and bought myself a beer. I was sitting there for hours and my plan for Virtual Acting arose in my head. I got so excited about this new concept that I couldn’t sleep. So I spent my nights and weekends shaping Virtual Acting, I talked to entrepreneurs in my network about this idea and discussed my plans with my colleagues at Purple Pill and the partners of our company who helped me realize these trainings on Virtual Acting.

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Why Virtual Acting?
We are probably only at the beginning of ‘life 3.0’. I believe all traditional art forms can learn so much from these new technologies. On the other hand we can improve hardware and software by using the input of creators. I’m really looking forward to all the new questions that we are going to ask ourselves, and the ethical and philosophical debates that will come with it. There is so much I like to do, but since I need some sleep every once in a while, I can’t do it all at once. That’s why I’m starting with the passion that I’ve had since I was five: Acting!

I really hope to meet many people who are as excited as I am. Let’s bring the industry a little bit further.

See you soon!

Cassandra