Challenge

The evolution of theatre

The National Theatre (NT) in London is a world-class theatrical institution that uses digital innovation and dynamic storytelling to support its ambitions of reaching the widest audience possible.

The NT recognises that the future of theatre will increasingly involve Extended Reality technologies. As the NT’s Partner for Innovation, Accenture was approached to support them in pioneering an immersive virtual experience.

An opportunity was seen in the NT’s staging of Andrea Levy’s book Small Island, to create an immersive, virtual extension, reflecting on the positive influence of mixed heritages in contemporary society. Audiences would be taken through a musical journey inspired by the influence of West Indian culture on the UK’s music scene; from calypso to grime.

Strategy and solution

Combining cutting edge technologies to create a communal VR experience

Accenture UK’s Extended Reality team brought their digital and immersive technology expertise to harness the NT’s creativity and help shape the vision of the project: a one-of-a-kind communal musical VR experience. Using human centred design, previsualisations and rapid iteration techniques, Accenture and other creative partners brought the NT’s vision to life in a stylised 3D environment.

Performers were filmed using ground-breaking high-end volumetric capture and green screen technology.

Accenture developed a bespoke media server that continuously monitored the status of the cutting-edge untethered VR headsets by accessing the headsets’ in-built World Sense technology. The media server tracked users’ positions, relaying them back in real time, to represent audience members with an avatar in the virtual space. By combining volumetric capture with the untethered headsets, audiences would be able to roam through the experience, viewing the performance from any angle.

Transformation

An immersive virtual experience unlike anything seen before

All Kinds of Limbo is a fully immersive communal VR experience, available to audiences of up to 20 people at a time.

Audiences are immersed into a captivating 3D world featuring musicians, performers, lighting and set design, and taken on a musical journey through calypso to grime.

While in the experience, the audience is encouraged to move around the virtual space. Audience members are represented by an avatar in the virtual environment, enabled by Accenture’s bespoke media server.

The multi-user tracking technology developed allows for other opportunities for its use, such as training simulations and games.

All Kinds of Limbo ran at the National Theatre from June 2019 - September 2019.

"I’m absolutely delighted that we’ve managed to work with Accenture on creating this piece of immersive VR"

— RUFUS NORRIS, Director – National Theatre

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