The Virtual Acting Institute

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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There are so many questions: What are the latest technologies available to you? How are they different? Which techniques will work best for creating believable characters in immersive media like VR/AR/MR? What new skills do actors need going forward, and what can they add to the tech revolution?

The Virtual Acting Institute offers research, consultancy and training to answer these questions. We teach the skills necessary for the acting of the future and are entirely focused on creating believable characters in immersive media: VR/AR/MR.

We understand just how complex XR 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, Lumo Labs LA and Venturerock.

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Why the Virtual Acting Institute?
I used to spend the majority of my time in theatre, on film sets and writing my own stories (Cassandra Renée); but I fell in love with VR when I became aware of the extra dimension it adds to storytelling; how it creates an immersive experience for viewers in a way that was not possible before. However, I found the art of traditional acting still very appealing, so I decided to become a translator between the two worlds I love, and help bridge the growing gap between these disciplines. That’s when I started giving workshops and masterclasses in Immersive Acting. Then, eighteen months ago, having spent three great years working and experimenting in VR with my friends from Purple Pill, I founded my own company – Virtual Acting.

The actor becomes a fictitious character and, often working solo, needs to interact with their own imagination in a virtual 360-degree environment. Wearing a technologically driven suit, the actor has millions of possible costumes.

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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, four years of practical VR experience and the expertise of fantasy writers, psychologists, actors, XR developers and character designers.

Method

The future of acting is not only about the performances of the actor. Technology also takes on a leading role and in order for the character created to become believable all elements must come seamlessly together: the dialogue in the script, the casting of the actor, the character design, the methods of production, the attention of the director; and they all have different and specific needs in XR.

Our mission is to share knowledge, to inspire and to bring people in this field together.

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We want to offer a place where we can do research, discuss ethics and help the more traditional industries easily integrate the latest technological innovations into their work.

In 2019 we’ll be starting the masterclass tour in London and LA, in addition to continuing our work in other cities, think: Vancouver, Amsterdam and Paris.

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

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.

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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!

Cas

VA & CAS

Hi there, I got this little space for free when I subscribed to WordPress, and apparently there is no way to remove it from my site. So, thanks to WordPress, i’ll give this blog-writing-thing a go. Sometimes someone has to push you! 😀

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My name is Cassandra, and for as long as I can remember I am a huge nerd who loves nothing more than creating new stories and telling them to anyone who’ll listen to me. At the moment I am directing and writing for Purple Pill  (purplepill.io). With a cool team of nerds and creatives we develop Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality projects. For one of these projects I was looking for the right actors, so I visited Kemna Casting and someone there asked me if there is such a thing as a training program for acting in VR/AR. We all know about Andy Serkis and his acting school, which is a bit in the same field, but I felt like there were so many more possibilities and challenges.

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On my way home  – cycling of course, like a proper Dutchie – I suddenly thought about opportunities and got lost (which I still do, although Amsterdam is my hometown for two years now). 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 VA?
I’m not really sure how to label myself. What I do know is that I love nothing more than to direct, act, write and produce and that I was as happy as a child when I finally put on the Xsens suit for the first time and saw my uncoordinated moves translated to a digitally animated character. I wasn’t born as tech-nerdy as I am today. In fact, I used to be a little bit afraid of my nerdy side because I feared it would interfere with the things I love, like books, theatre and movies. But as I got more and more used to technology, I discovered that it actually opens countless of opportunities. That’s what makes it so addicting to me. The only limitation left is the limitation of your own imagination.

(video of my uncoordinated moves)

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!

Cas.