Having upskilled amid the lockdown of live events, TPi Breakthrough Talent, Cedric Duré of Outdream Creative was finally able to put his newfound capabilities to the test for My House – an interactive dance performance with Unreal Engine, utilising a system originally designed for consumer/prosumer VR gaming market as an indie BlackTrax.
Duré was brought into the project by the show’s Director, Junior Akwety, following a prior discussion about his eagerness to explore and enhance his interactive content and real-time tracking capabilities. “It’s amazing how one good impression can lead to so many new opportunities,” he began, discussing how he landed the gig of Unreal Programmer/Digital Scenographer for My House.
“I went for a very indie approach for the tracking system, mainly for budget reasons but I also wanted to see if running a show like this with prosumer gaming gear would be possible,” he said, explaining his choice of a HTC Vive VR ecosystem with Unreal Engine and SteamVR.
Dancers wore ‘pucks’ called Vive Trackers around their waist, which provided Duré with real-time position and orientation data. Once the data was received by Unreal Engine, it was then used to generate content that reacted and interacted with the dancers’ position and orientation. The whole show was automated, allowing Akwety to hit play with the Reaper Remote app. “I created two human-sized bubbles that were projected behind the dancers and those bubbles were locked to the dancer’s position and orientation and followed them around in real time,” he explained. “There were also 2D video elements like text, which were triggered and layered on top of the Unreal feed using Resolume.”
The Unreal Engine feed was brought into Resolume using an NDI plugin. “This was something completely new for me,” he revealed. “I have developed my Unreal Engine skills in lockdown and this was a great opportunity to put my new skills to the test. Using the programmes in a live environment instead of behind a desk at home is different and it taught me a lot about how to use the gear properly.”
The show was recorded in multiple camera angles, allowing the team to exhibit an immersive concept for a digital audience. “Live experiences still provide a magic mix of emotions and joy, regardless of restrictions,” Duré said. “I’ve seen so many people come up with amazing initiatives that wouldn’t make sense if we weren’t in a pandemic, but that are so creative and well thought out.”
The My House team featured Choreographer, Zach Swagga; Director, Junior Akwety; Unreal Programmer/Scenographer, Cedric Duré; Lighting Programmer, Dirk De Hooghe; and Dancers, Davide Zazzera and Samantha Mavinga.
“Although I love the work I’ve been doing amid the lockdown, nothing beats the buzz of a live audience. Belgium is beginning to open up, so I’m hopeful for the future,” Duré concluded. “I still plan on expanding my knowledge every day and improving my skills for in-person and virtual audiences, both local and international.”
This article originally appeared in issue #265 of TPi, which you can read here.