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Research: Live Performance

Blogger Project

UCLA Department of Theater, 2006.

A theater production, written and directed by Tony-award winning professor Mel Shapiro, the project interweaved elements from Homer’s Iliad, the Iraq War and internet-based communication within a simulated gaming world on stage.

REMAP's team of students and alumni from computer science, theater, animation, cinematography and architecture explored how to harness the power of a modern game engine (Unreal 2) into a unique flow of media in a live event.

UCLA Department of Theater experimental production, April 2006.

Written & directed by Professor Mel Shapiro. Co-Directed by Jim Dennen.

Cast - Brian Allman, Shawn Colten, Jason Greenfield, Lovensky Jean-Baptiste, Kyra Morris, Theodore Perkins, Jamaica Perry, Nicole Reding, Amy Rush, Sergio Savinovic, Matt Weedman


Media design - REMAP / Scenic design - Francois-Pierre Couture / Lighting design - Jennifer Bloom / Costume design - Sarah Le Feber, Leighton Aycock (asst), Rachel Moran (asst) / Sound design - Jason Tuttle / Stage Manager - Bonnie Anderson / Production Manager - Jeff Wachtel

Media design / video concept & direction: Jeff Burke

Director of Photography: Vanessa Holtgrewe

Software architecture: Eitan Mendelowitz, Jonathan Snipes, Jeff Burke, Vidyut Samanta

World design: Sheila Starace, Vidyut Samanta, Eitan Mendelowitz, Jeff Burke, Kaitlin Drisko

Compositing: Maija Burnett, Meghann Artes, Vanessa Holtgrewe

Video Production Coordinator (Glue): Ryan Dorn

Video Systems Technician: Matt Usi

Support from: UCLA Department of Theater, UCLA Academic Technology Services (Margo Reveil), Epic Games (Mark Rein), BJ Orchid, Orchid Affair

Like the Blogger Project's text, the production's visuals arose from a unique collaboration, in this case among artists and engineers from the Center for Research in Engineering, Media and Performance (REMAP).

Prompted by the show's material and game-like concept, REMAP researchers explored how the power of a modern game engine might be harnessed to create a uniquely fluid world of media for a live event. For its three brief months of pre-production, this effort brought together a team of students and alumni from computer science, theater, animation, cinematography, and architecture, led by REMAP Executive Director Jeff Burke.

Original video segments shot by MFA Cinematography student Vanessa Holtgrewe ('06) were placed together with found images into Epic Game's Unreal engine to create a navigable three-dimensional collage. This became the 'world' from which each scene's visuals were taken during the rehearsal process. The raw material was composited by MFA Animation students Maija Burnett ('05) and Meghann Artes and layered onto an otherworldly architecture created by REMAP researchers Sheila Starace (visiting from the University of Rome) and Vids Samanta (Computer Science, '05).

Simultaneously, Computer Science doctoral student and Design|Media Arts MFA alum ('04) Eitan Mendelowitz, Theater alum Jonathan Snipes ('05), and Burke created software to enable playback of the video footage within the 3D world and allow the game engine's perspective, movement and media to be controlled remotely in real-time by an operator watching the production.

Los Angeles Times article, April 18, 2006.