Galileo - VR
A design for the future
Application + Trial Script for filming
Welcome to the CreativeXR submission process.
Total score = Placed you in the 1st quartile
Collaborating with Gillian Spragg composer of opera “Galileo!”, director and artistic director of West London Arts Scene Limited (Ealing Autumn Festival)
Describe the immersive experience of your team (both the lead company and contributors) *
Mbryonic has been creating innovative VR experiences since 2014, designing and developing original content for Sage Gateshead, Barbican, Columbia Records and global brands. The team has over two decades experience in interactive entertainment. Notable previous artistic work includes: Veil, a collaboration with artist Iain Nicholls that was listed for the prestigious Lumen Prize and won Zealous X Festival Interactive Category. Another collaboration with artist Xavi Sole entitled The Sleep Of Reason was selected for Kaleidoscope festival in LA and also at Barcelona’s OFFF. Whilst The Mine at Hemingfield VR experience premiered at Mayfair’s Gazelli Art House.
For this project Mbryonic will be collaborating with composer and arts producer Gillian Spragg. Gillian, founding director of Ealing Autumn Festival, has produced operas such as “Noyes Fludde” by Britten, “Don Giovanni” by Mozart and her own work “Galileo!”. She commissioned a digital version of Mozart’s Dice Game for Mozilla Festival. Her publishing venture, Sound Wise, pioneered the use of audio-recordings for music students and teachers, achieving international distribution.
Gillian and Tom Szirtes (founder of Mbryonic) worked previously together on an event for Ealing Autumn Festival.
If possible, please provide links to some of your past immersive work
Please write a general project summary of your full experience *
Galileo VR is a 40 minute interactive immersive opera for virtual reality headsets aimed at young people and families, but all ages too. Adapted from an existing non-immersive work by composer Gillian Spragg.
The audience witnesses the birth of the universe. It stars the astronomer Galileo, the Sun, Moon. The audience are members of a chorus of stars, similar to ancient Greek drama. A fantastical trial takes place in which Galileo is accused of insulting the Sun and Moon by describing them as spotty and lumpy. Educational as well as entertaining, the work addresses artistic themes of freedom of expression, human rights, conflict and resolution.
Using a mix of CGI and performance capture, audience members become an active participant, taking on roles within the story. They are able to explore the environment and influence the world around them within a shared virtual space with other audience members.
Please write a detailed creative description of your full experience *
From its outset Opera has always been as immersive an experience as technology has allowed, using enormously complicated sets and machinery. Moving to VR is a natural yet novel progression. It is also a vehicle for story-telling.
Galileo VR explores the immersive capabilities of virtual reality in the context of Opera. To our knowledge this will be the first time for a fully composed opera to be created as an interactive VR experience. Gillian originally conceived “Galileo!”for this type of medium. As a living composer, she will be able to give original input to its VR creation.
Galileo is a ‘space’ opera experienced using virtual reality headsets. Designed as a group communal experience, audiences will have a networked synchronised interactive virtual performance. The audience experiences the action within a computer generated 360 environment, perfectly fitting the drama. The sound design encourages them to look around, tracking aural cues, so that they become fully engaged in the telling of the story as it unfolds in the 360 space around them.
Created using real-time game engine, each user has an individual yet shared journey through the performance. Each user takes on the role of a ‘star’ in the Star Chorus. Users can interact with the experience using gestures performed using a hand controller. The other audience members are present in the same virtual space. Users are encouraged to identify with The Stars emotionally and psychologically because of the role they take in the story and choices they make.
The work provides an accessible introduction to astronomy and astrophysics, the history of Galileo brought to life in a fantastical awe inspiring VR experience. It also tackles the theme of social issues of justice, human rights and truth.
A video about the original opera from which it will be adapted is here:
Please explain why you believe immersive technology provides the best medium for this experience? *
Historically we feel this is the next logical step in the evolution of Opera production. Opera has always engaged with as much technology as is available. We feel that immersive technology is the best way to capture the scale and magnitude of the big bang and the universe which results from it,
VR content to date has been typically shortform experiences and is partly due to a lack of storytelling, which we feel opera can address. The delivery of the story depends on the sharing elements of the experience.
Who is the intended audience for this experience? *
The work is primarily targeted at children and young people, but is also intended to be enjoyed as a family experience and for all ages. The work is funny as well as touching on serious topics. We imagine this would work in all kinds of festivals, educational settings, museums and some libraries.
We have early interest secured from festivals and commissioners including West London Arts Scene, London Borough of Ealing, OPDC, Event Umbrella and others.
What is your proposed primary distribution method *
Location-based (physical installation)
What is your proposed primary distribution hardware? *
Mobile VR headset
Which device specifically? *
Samsung Gear (Mobile)
Google Daydream (Mobile)
What is your primary production type? *
Real-time rendered (game-engine based) experience
Please give an overview of your technical approach for production and distribution, and include any specialist technology dependencies *
The opera will be created in Unity game engine, in which we have multiple years of experience in working with. It will utilise a combination of 3D hand animated art and performance capture using existing motion capture techniques. The score will be recorded as multitrack recording and then mixed as an ambisonic file, additional spot effects will be created 3D object audio rendered by the game engine.
The app will be sideloaded onto mobile VR devices that have hand gesture controllers (such as the Google Daydream or Samsung Gear VR). Each app connects to a local area wireless network on which will sit a server PC running on a laptop that will enable the multiplayer experience for around 20-30 devices per performance. Interactions will be non critical and time independent to avoid any synchronisation issues or problems with drop-outs.
The equipment will be provided as a standalone touring set-up for festivals together with the necessary technical support.
We imagine in future iterations we would also provide a stand-alone downloadable app connecting to an online server for wider distribution.
Please describe the form of the prototype you propose to create to demonstrate the principle of the full experience described previously *
We aim to create a compressed 2 minute sequence at the beginning of the show which is the Big Bang and introduction of the main characters the Sun, Moon, Stars and Galileo. The user will take the role of a star - which are the chorus in the opera.
The prototype will demonstrate multiplayer experience through two peer-to-peer networked units, interaction with the real-time graphics and performance capture onto the virtual performers. Users will be aware of each other’s presence and be able to interact with the performance through gestures.
The audio track will be created using a computer score overlaid with selected real-instruments and vocal performance from the singers involved in the original Opera production.
TRIAL SCRIPT FOR OPENING
NB the timings do not always at this stage reflect the exact timings in the film. Written by Gillian Spragg.
Cue Chorus: Ten – Nine – Eight – Seven – Six – Five – Four – Three – Two – One – Big Bang!
Sound: very very quiet low notes getting a little louder
Sound: huge overpowering noise from all acoustic and electronic instruments, clashing gongs, bells, amplified instruments, drums, etc.
VR Scene: huge explosions showing the beginning of the universe, brilliant light flying across the sky, comets, nebulae, wild action – the VR scene covers the floor so that when the characters enter they look as though they will be walking in space.
Sound: gradually reduces to loud with universe theme starting to emerge in pitched instruments.
VR Scene: Action becomes less explosive.
Sound: dies away to nothing.
VR Scene: action become ordered, different sized images moving in similar directions like a new different solar system, occasional comet flies by.
VR moves quietly, orderly
Sound: universe theme starts slowly, quietly – pitched percussion solo sets off the universe theme with other instruments gradually joining in to make a heavenly, beautifully ordered and glorious universe with sudden beautiful surprises as a comet flies past or a new nebulae start to emerge then comes forward, the floats into the distance.
VR scene: dancers as brilliantly clothed stars, different groups holding hand, moving at first without order then gradually moving on circles, elipses, some giving impression of upward and downward movement. They do this discreetly, moving to R and L of performance area.
Sound: ordered sounds continue but now a sunrise begins with growing “The Sun” sounds culminating with the tam-tam as The Sun appears.
VR scene: against continuing background, the sunrise grows from the back of the performance space and with a startling flash of light The Sun appears – the dancing stars become more animated.
Cue The Sun: I am The Sun
The opera starts with a countdown to the Big Bang in which the universe is created and the Stars appear.
The Sun appears and then The Moon. Each sings of their role in the universe and they then sing a duet together.
Galileo interrupts the end of the duet with “O sole mio” and enters through the audience. The Sun and The Moon are baffled but The Sun is flattered that Galileo is singing about him.
Galileo tells The Sun that he has spots. The Sun is annoyed, sings an aria and stomps off sulkily to one side.
Galileo then sings to The Moon, how beautiful she is, but then points out the lumps over her surfaces, so that she is also insulted and sings an aria.
As she finally collapses in tears, Caroline Herschel, sister of astronomer and composer William, noisily breaks in with a speaking part, wanting to know what all the fuss is about.
She then notices that the Stars are in the wrong places. She had reconfigured star charts after further astronomical measurements. She starts putting them back in proper order but upsets and annoys them in doing so. She also asks for music her brother’s music to be played but finds this is also unsatisfactory. Finally she walks off leaving everybody, except Galileo, upset and annoyed and looking for someone to blame.
Everyone turns on Galileo.
The Sun confronts him about his “wrong” theory that The Sun goes round the earth.
Galileo continues to protest but The Sun, The Moon and the Stars decide to put him on trial. This starts off as a joke but then becomes more serious and Galileo refuses to say that he has lied about his discoveries. Everyone denounces him.
The Sun tells the Stars to show Galileo the instruments of torture and he taken off stage. He’s not actually tortured but he is now terrified. He returns to the stage, terrified and broken, and finally recants.
The Sun and The Moon now begin to understand how unjustly they have behaved and the Stars show they too agree. They apologise.
One of the Stars starts playing “Twinkle, twinkle little star” and gently persuades Galileo to join in. Galileo, The Sun and The Moon resolve their differences, Galileo saying he was very awkward (but adds: “Eppur, si muove” – But it moves anyway) and The Sun and The Moon repeat their apologies.
The Stars begin a big chorus of “Twinkle, twinkle little star” with Galileo, The Sun and The Moon joining in.
Finally everyone is happy once more and the universe returns to harmony.
Positive impact on the UK’s arts and culture community: You scored in the 1st quartile
Immersive technology is a suitable and enhancing for the experience: You scored in the 1st quartile
Feasibility to deliver the proposed prototype: You scored in the 1st quartile
Total score = Placed you in the 1st quartile