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ENSEMBLE Performing Together Apart: Enhancing Immersive Multi-Location Co-Performance in Real Time

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Profile image of Dr Oli Mival

Dr Oli Mival o.mival@napier.ac.uk
Principal Research Fellow

Project Description

The feeling of being immersed within a live performance by an ensemble of world class musicians can be a deeply engaging and highly valued cultural experience for audiences as well as for the performers themselves. Operas, orchestral performances and musical theatre are popular and attract large followings, but they are costly and highly resource intensive to produce, particularly when the most talented performers are often located in different locations across the globe. Novel technology can potentially provide solutions and new creative opportunities, but the ENSEMBLE project will provide a complementary, human-centred focus on relatively under explored experiential aspects. The project will look at how musicians can perform live together seamlessly as a group even though they are separated by distance, mediated through cutting-edge connection technologies. ENSEMBLE will examine the subjective, experiential and contextual factors that support high quality performance experiences primarily from the perspective of the performers themselves, using qualitative and analytical methods.

With the advent of super low latency network connections, the possibility has emerged for musicians, singers and actors to perform together in multiple remote locations in real time. The latency aspect has been a particular challenge for musicians where even a lag of 30 milliseconds may have an impact resulting in a significant deterioration in performance. With the resolution of some of these latency technical hurdles additional more experiential challenges have emerged regarding the nuance of representation of remote performance partners of both the co-performer(s) and their audience.

In it’s simplest terms, the question is how best should remote participants in a performance, be they co-performers or an audience member, be represented to one another (visually, aurally and kinetically) to result in the most engaging, joyful and immersive experience for all involved?

The ENSEMBLE project seeks to answer this question by exploring the potential of emerging technologies such as multi-person immersive dome environments (IDEs) to enable, enhance, extend and immerse performers and/or audiences in real-time during multi-location and distributed musical and theatrical performances. This in turn will provide insight into the parameters of influence of remote co-performance on both the performer and audience experience, in turn enabling the establishment of UX (user experience) and technological frameworks informing best practice when designing, developing and deploying such technologies into temporary and permanent physical performance spaces and scenarios.

Project Acronym ENSEMBLE
Status Project Complete
Funder(s) Arts & Humanities Research Council
Value £58,268.00
Project Dates Jan 1, 2018 - Sep 30, 2018
Partner Organisations Soluis Technologies Ltd



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