Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Sub(text) theatre

Posted: February 9, 2011 in Acting, Technology

If anyone is reading this, they will know most of the show.  Here, for example is the Sub(text) portion of the show.

the basic concept for this is that technology can enhance a performance.  Like Pop-up Videos from the early 1990s, people can receive texts that fill in supplemental information about the performance.  Different feeds can be created for cast notes, author notes, costume notes, historical context, ect.  For example, one person watching the Brick/Big Daddy scene from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof can receive texts about the fabric that Big Daddy’s suit is made of,while another can get more information about Big Daddy’s cancer and the prognosis in that era, while still a third can find out how this scene was challenging to memorize from the actor playing Brick.

It’s important to note that these texts, sent to phones on vibrate, are not specifically designed for the first time viewer, but rather for the repeat customer. Audience members can return to watch the show with new information that increases their enjoyment.  They get to select the texts they receive and can turn off the phone at any time.

Of course, eventually this can create a whole sub-genre of theatre where writers create specifically for the technology.  In example…



Project Cast: Assemble!!

Posted: February 4, 2011 in Acting, iPad

I have my cast for my project.

Hamlet and Puppet #1: Kevin Blake.  He was the first guy I asked.  His knowledge of Shakepeare and improv made it a no brainer.

Man 1 and Puppet #2: Kurt Scholler.  One of the best improvisers I know (and I do know a lot), what set him apart from some other choices I could make is that he has a very distinctive voice.  This will play very well with the puppet segment and allow for both visual and vocal differentiation in the two characters.

Woman #1: Whitney Avalon.  A remarkable performer, I almost hate to waste her talents on such a small scene.  Having said that, I’m pulling this favor because she is so great and reliable. We’ve done a lot of projects together and I know what I’m getting.  Plus, I may have her sing…

Ghost (Head): David Heath.  I could have tried to cast someone out of New York or London for a real impressive demonstration.  The problem is I don’t know anyone there who could play the role, so I’d have to cast blindly and trust that they would be in front of their computer on time and knowing how to work teh internets.  I don’t need that kind of risk; with this presentation I’m already juggling flaming angry monkey while riding a unicycle on a high wire.  So instead, I picked great friend who is a member of the Lamb’s Players Theatre in San Diego.  Dave has performed hundreds of roles over the years and couldn’t be nicer or more down to Earth.  When I told him what he’d be doing he laughed for a good 30 seconds then said, “Sure Mike, I’m in.”  His level of accountability is beyond reproach.

Ghost (body): Katie Brost.  The original plan was to have Kurt play the body of Hamlet’s Father.  He’s a large, imposing guy and it would play well in the scene.  But Kurt isn’t a movement guy and the decision was mainly for conservation of talent.  Today as I was jogging (And thinking about the project) it hit me: Katie Brost.  Katie is one of my best friends in the program. She’s also incredibly bright and knows as much about theatre as most of the professors teaching us.  Additionally, she’s a big fan of Meyerhold and his Biomechanics.  This could be a great experience for her if she played the body.  She also lives in San Diego, so her and Dave could actually rehearse together.  This would really transform my idea of the Ghost’s body from mere;y being a semi-static pedestal for the ipad-head, to a moving living form that moves in tandem with the words.  As an added bonus, when the role is over and we reveal the “he” to be a “She”, it will be one more surprise for the audience and further proof of the flexibility of the transactor.

I’m not sure I could have picked a better combination of actors for my presentation.  Of course, with that comes my one huge fear: that one or more of them will land a job on that night.  A TV gig can pay $1,000 and a commercial more than $20,000 for one day’s work. It’s a hard sell to convince them to “book out” for the evening.  I will press them to do this, but if something comes up and they still get cast, I can’t hold them to stay.  At that juncture, I don’t quite know what my options are, but I do need a contingent plan.  Time for more jogging I guess…

Motion capture Hamlet response

Posted: January 18, 2011 in Technology

So I got this response today to my previous post:

Hello, Mike,
thank you for your proposal.
Our solution is not real-time yet, so it is not possible to make live presentation.
You can use 30-days free trial to make offline tracking.
With best regards,
Pavel Sorokin,
Chief Marketing Officer, iPi Soft LLC.
Phone (cell):    +7 (926) 2377187

That’s not what I wanted to hear.  This was the most out there idea I had and I really hoped that it would come together.  Skyping someone into a scene is still a really possibility, but not as awesome if they were rendered as a dragon or knight.

I’ll still keep tabs on this stuff, but I can’t get fixated on it.


Motion Capture Hamlet

Posted: January 16, 2011 in Technology

I’m really fixated on the idea of a realtime, motion captured CG model of the Ghost from Hamlet doing a scene with Hamlet in my presentation.  Having an actor somewhere other than the building, in front of motion control cameras performing with a real actor is a thrilling high-wire act.

To that end, I’ve contacted ipisoft, a consumer level motion capture software company in hopes that they could help me.  Here’s a video of what they can do…


And here’s the letter I sent them.

There’s a good chance I could do this by myself, but part of my own personal project is learning how to delegate a little bit.  Asking these guys would make my life much easier and this would be a spectacular display.



My name is Mike McCafferty and I am currently a graduate student at California State University Northridge pursing a degree in theatre arts.  The time has come for me to do a graduate project and I’m tackling the application of combing theatre with technology, social media and game theory.  It’s an ambitious project, especially considering that theatre practitioners in general tend to be a cloistered and paranoid of new things.  My goal is to show them the benefits of new and present technology to bring more interactivity between them and the audiences they serve.

One of my main ideas is that of virtual acting, that is actors who aren’t necessarily on the same stage.  I’d love the idea of Sir Ian McKellen being able to play hamlet’s ghost on Broadway, while standing in front of a camera in New Zealand.

Even more interesting is the idea of adding to those virtual actors with motion capture.  If Hamlet’s ghost could be projected next to Hamlet (via projection or rear screen) flying, disappearing and then reappearing with a completely different look, I think that would be a victory for the technology and the theatre.

So I’m asking if your company would be willing to participate in my project on some level.  Optimally, I’d love to have an actor show up at your studios the night of my presentation and perform the ghost role, live and from where ever you guys are, with my Hamlet on stage.

I imagine this could get some unique press attention.  While I am a grad student, I’m also an actor who’s been on TV and movies occasionally (I was in  Idiocracy), and I live in LA, so the possibility for good coverage is excellent.

I’m planning on doing the presentation (A Steve jobs like Keynote parody) in Mid-March.  If you agree to this, I can set up actor in your area and any other details on my side.  From you, all I ask if for your technical experience.

If you can get back to me on this either way soon, I’d appreciate it.  I really hope we can work together and make this something rather new for an old medium.


Mike McCafferty

The New Year

Posted: January 7, 2011 in Acting, Graduation, Technology

Here’s some of the things I am now focusing on, now that the new year is upon me:

iPad theatre: See if I can get some broadway actors on New York and an hollywood actor to perform via iPad mask skype.  Need to research a good scene.

Rear-screen projection idea:  It’s an old technology, but with projector screens, broadband and CG, it could be amazing.  Some ideas:

  • Have an actor rear screened into a scene.  What about the ghost from Hamlet?
  • Virtual sets.  You can have sets that instantly change to new ones.  Or they can pivot around the room or characters can walk down halls.
  • A show in New York can have a real time Los Angeles sun setting sequence with an actor in the background.

Working on QR codes.  These little boxes can be read by smartphones and have links or info.

Need to get one of my tech friends suckered interested in this project.

Have reached out to SCVNGR for assistance with the game theory part of the show.  They have graciously agreed to upgrade my free account.  Thanks, y’all!