Pixvana Studies Dance Movements in VR with Pacific Northwest Ballet
Pixvana partnered with the Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) to explore the unprecedented possibilities for dance and performance within virtual reality (VR), resulting in the 3-minute VR film Silent Resonance. Directed by Pixvana’s Creative Director and CTO Scott Squires, the film’s eponymous ballet was choreographed by PNB Company dancer Price Suddarth and features PNB dancers Emma Love Suddarth and Miles Pertl. Silent Resonance debuted at PNB’s fundraising event “Pointe to the Stars” on March 9; it is coming soon to Steam and is available now on YouTube 360 and Facebook 360.
PNB’s first VR experience, Silent Resonance is the result of Artistic Director Peter Boal’s effort to leverage technology to reach new audiences. Squires and the Pixvana team approached the project as an exploration of movement in dance, as well as an opportunity to test the software tools that Pixvana is developing for VR content creators. Shooting in a PNB studio, the Pixvana team worked with Suddarth to optimize the choreography for VR – keeping the dancers in specific zones to avoid disrupting stitch lines, and keeping the dancers an optimal distance from the camera. Reimagining Eadweard Muybridge’s motion studies from the late 1800s, Squires then utilized a special echo effect that visualizes Suddarth’s choreography. The raw, lyrical pas de deux slowly intensifies with three mirrored versions of the dancers throughout the 360 view. Silent Resonance was finished with Pixvana's SPIN Publish platform, which enables ultra-high quality VR video encoding and delivery. The final result is a meditative, ethereal experience. Check the behind-the-scenes video on the making-of Silent Resonance:
“I’ve been interested in doing a ballet project for VR for awhile now and PNB was an ideal partner – they were so excited about the technology and its potential to bring a fresh perspective to the arts,” said Squires. “It’s a great way to achieve a more intimate experience with your audience, reach new people outside of the Seattle area, and create visuals that would be impossible to match on a traditional stage.”
“I took inspiration for this work from the virtual reality concept itself,” explained choreographer Suddarth. “In VR, the intention is to immerse the viewer entirely into a different world. With that idea in mind, I sought out to create a short work that provided the viewer a glimpse into the mind of a dancer. In the piece you see the struggle, the conflict, the joy, and the complex beauty that is the heart and soul of a dancer.”
“We are excited about the doors this collaboration opens,” said PNB’s Boal. “We’re seeing one art form enhance another and the sum total is inspiring. Innovative choreography and exquisite dancers are seen in a new light, through a new lens, and by new audiences.”
Pixvana Inc. is pioneering a cloud-based platform for virtual and augmented reality. The company is Seattle-based and venture backed by Madrona Venture Group and Vulcan Capital. Pixvana’s founders have proven startup success in media technology, and hail from senior product and engineering leadership roles at Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, and Lucasfilm. For more information visit Pixvana.com.
About Pacific Northwest Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet, one of the largest and most highly regarded ballet companies in the United States, was founded in 1972. In July 2005, Peter Boal became Artistic Director, succeeding Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, Co-Artistic Directors since 1977. The Company of 47 dancers annually presents more than 100 performances of full-length and mixed repertory ballets at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall and on tour. The Company has toured to Europe, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Canada and throughout the United States, with celebrated appearances at Jacob’s Pillow and in New York City and Washington, DC. Under the direction of Peter Boal, PNB has continued to expand and diversify its repertory to include works by Ulysses Dove, William Forsythe, Susan Marshall, Mark Morris, Victor Quijada, Twyla Tharp, Christopher Wheeldon and others. For more information, visit PNB.org. Pacific Northwest Ballet’s 2016-2017 Season is proudly sponsored by ArtsFund and Microsoft.