Team TheatAR is a student pitch project at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center (Fall 2018) that is creating Project Neverland. It aims to creating a theatrical experience in which a live actor and an animated character can share the same stage, in realtime, using augmented reality.
I’ll be focused on my contribution and process here, see our team website for the more complete process.
After a lot of iteration and experimentation with different kinds of hardware, we chose a story that would complement the strengths and weaknesses of wearable augmented reality as well as make a good case for the use of the technology in a theatrical setting. To meet those ends, we chose to recreate the nursery scene from Peter Pan. Peter and Wendy will be live actors, and Tinkerbell will be an animated augmented reality character. We are aiming to have Tinkerbell act in a believable way with both the physical set, and the actors.
We purchased a fairy model and outsourced biped and facial rigging to the amazing Sahar Kausar, so that I was free to collect reference videos and hammer out the animation pipeline between creating acting sequences in Maya, while moving and plotting the character route in Unity.
Gold Spike - Technical Pipeline Iteration
A ceremonial gold spike was used to connect the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. This is why at the ETC, we use the term “Gold Spike” to signify that we’ve reached a working technical pipeline.
This pipeline was a collaborative process between me and our team’s programmers because how the animation assets will be created, organized, and manipulated in both Maya and Unity are my responsibility. Using sketches like the one shown, programmers and I communicated in meetings and back and forth.
Using a Kiel Figgins rig that I had for personal practice, I made a sequence of animations in Maya, which we then put into Unity Timeline.
We put them into the engine and added Unity movement in Timeline. So far, this has worked out with test animations.
The team spent some time at the space together and discussed props and production for practical effects before mapping out the space. We taped off the area and put in temporary placeholders where we would have our props.
Our Theatrical Manager took these measurements and put them into a schematic, which I took and turned into a template for our storyboarding.
I drew up storyboards together with the Creative Director and Set Designer, going through the script and drawing out detailed stage directions for Tinkerbell’s animation.