Renowned Stage Designer William Dudley Brings Never-before Seen Cinematic Experience to Live Theatre — Lighting, Rendering and Efficient Polygon Management Tools Cited as Key to On-time Workflow and Enhanced Audience Engagement
Newbury Park, Calif. — June 7, 2010 — MAXON Computer, a leading developer of professional 3D modeling, painting, animation and rendering solutions, today announced that world-renowned theater designer William Dudley used CINEMA 4D to chart new territory in the marriage of digital scenery and live action in the new stage production of JM Barrie's Peter Pan which recently made its US Premiere in San Francisco. Dudley, a long-time CINEMA 4D user whose career spans 40 years of award-winning theatrical set design, turned to CINEMA 4D to create the digital sets that immerse cast and audience alike in a CGI Neverland in a way never experienced in live theatre — an experience Dudley calls "cinematic theatre."
Peter Pan is being performed "in the round" in San Francisco's Ferry Park in The threesixty˚ Theatre — the world's first 360-degree CGI theater pavilion — a specially designed light-tight tent that seats 1,350, stands 100 feet tall and serves as a giant surround projection screen. Dudley, working with Matthew "Mash" O'Neill and a small team of CG artists, used CINEMA 4D to craft spectacular virtual sets that live actors interact with and that bring audiences into the action when, for example, Peter and Wendy fly over 400 square miles of Edwardian London.
For Dudley, considered a pioneer in the use of 3D software technology to create immersive, photo real 3D theatrical environments, CINEMA 4D affords increased efficiency and artistic flexibility. "Fabricating extremely detailed physical working models is costly and subject to endless revision and change by the director. Using CINEMA 4D permitted us to model, texture, light and animate complex, timed scene changes, and distribute copies of plans and stills to numerous technicians and contractors as well as make adjustments for fine details or specific views of the set quickly and efficiently. The orthogonal views in the software were especially useful in generating technical drawings that can show multiple renders of a stage prop for maximum clarity of intent," Dudley said.
"CINEMA 4D is well thought out and offers an intuitive interface and logical modular workflow that is tailored to the needs of artists rather than geeks, and is well integrated with Photoshop and After Effects," he added.
According to O'Neill, "Containing rendering times of the flyover of London presented the biggest technical challenge." CINEMA 4D's robust polygonal modeling and HyperNurbs subdivision surface tools let Dudley and O'Neill achieve just the right level of detail, while keeping the polygon count of the cityscape to under 15 million. This reduced rendering time, but even so, the 8.5K image files took 200 computers four weeks to render.
In addition to flying over of London, Peter Pan takes audiences on a magical journey through clouds and jungle, under water, on the deck of a pirate ship and underground. Clouds were created using CINEMA 4D's PyroCluster volumetric shading system, Thinking Particles — CINEMA 4D's particle system — and the MoGraph 2 animation effects module. To cover Neverland Island in palm trees, the team put CINEMA 4D's hair system to use, replacing each hair with a palm tree model that could be "brushed" into place. The cloth system included in CINEMA 4D's character animation system handled flags blowing in the wind and sails on the pirate ship.
Displaying the all-encompassing threesixty° Theatre experience required 12 linked, specialized and highly adapted 20K projectors that seamlessly deliver 10 million pixels of animated imagery in 360 degrees. A Hippotizer Media Server (http://www.tmb.com/products/Hippotizer) delivers the segmented video files to each projector.
"We're thrilled that CINEMA 4D has been integral to William's workflow on this production of Peter Pan giving him the artistic freedom and confidence to create dazzling cinematic-style imagery that not only seamlessly blends with live actors and physical props, but for the first time ever is being projected onto a 360-degree theatre set providing audiences the ultimate immersive live theatrical environment," says Paul Babb, President and CEO of MAXON US.
"The technological requirements of this show," Babb added, "heavily imposed by projecting ultra-high-resolution animation on a 360-degree screen, are massive especially in terms of rendering and seamlessly synching imagery from 12 projectors with live actors on stage and aerially, and we commend Bill for his vision, artistry and technological know-how in pushing our application into the 'cinematic theatrical' realm in such a dramatic way."
Previous to Peter Pan, Dudley used CINEMA 4D to create digital scenery in small and large-scale live theater productions. In November 2005, he designed the first-ever CGI sets to appear on Broadway during the premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White, which had previously debuted in London's Palace Theater in September 2004. These same digital techniques were also featured prominently in Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia, at the Royal National Theater in London 2002, and in Terry Johnson's Hitchcock Blonde, at the Royal Court Theater, also in London, in 2003 and South Coast Repertory in Southern California (January 2006), and others.
This production of Peter Pan and The threesixty˚ Theater represented an exclusive opportunity for Dudley and crew to push CINEMA 4D even further to bring a dynamic theatrical experience to younger, visually-sophisticated audiences. "Youth today expect a multimedia experience at live events. Many details of the theatrical stage sets in Peter Pan were designed with young audiences in mind — live actors in costume are interacting with both physical props and cinematic CGI in illusionistic 3D space, on the ground and aerially, further blurring the lines between theatre and cinema," added Dudley.
The threesixty° Theatre production of Peter Pan was a smash hit when it launched in London in 2009. It premiered in the U.S. on April 27, 2010 in San Francisco and is scheduled to travel to major U.S. cities including Los Angeles, Chicago and New York as well as other venues worldwide. For more information about the show, visit http://www.peterpantheshow.com/.
Interview with Renowned Stage Designer William Dudley
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