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?
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