Volvox Labs transforms the MET’s Pontaut Chapter House into a techno-medieval space thanks to Disguise XR
The concert series Sonic Cloisters are a series of music performances created to enhances different spots from the New York Metropolitan Museum. Part of them, the Dubfire’s recent live streamed concert was made by Brooklyn-based Volvox Labs (VVOX) and the disguise Extended Reality (xR) workflow with Unreal Engine. Dubfire’s xR performance was the first time that the Cloisters had undergone such a digitally-enhanced display of its artwork.
“It was amazing to be able to take this project into such a unique location for one day and basically launch a full xR experience without any kind of rehearsal,” explains Kamil Nawratil, Creative Director at VVOX. “We would never have thought of delivering this kind of project without the disguise and Unreal Engine workflows. The creative possibilities, the photorealism of the content and the stability of the system were unbelievable.”
VOX developed a set design as equally driven by the look and feel of the medieval location (12th century Pontaut Chapter House) as by the techno tempo of the music. The design faded in and out of five different Unreal Engine worlds or ‘chapters’.
“The big trick was essentially having an exact replica of the room in Unreal Engine,” says Nawratil. “We did an architectural scan of the room and, with the site tracking and spatial calibration in disguise, it all snapped into place.”
Having the venue in Unreal Engine gave VVOX the ability to build different objects that would correspond to the real world, such as AR graphics wrapping around two columns in the center of the room. “Because we couldn’t set down an LED floor, we had to obscure the table and the gear the artist was playing on with an AR element so the set extension made visual sense,” he explains.
The team also had to run some tests with the stYpe camera tracking system using floor markers. Although VVOX knew they had a handle on everything in the studio, they understood that virtual environments were completely different, and they were integrating physical environments into the shoot as well.
“We were so pleased to essentially take xR out of xR, in the sense of leaving the volume that we’re used to working in and moving to a live setting – still doing what xR is supposed to do but also taking advantage of the architecture of a very unique space,” Nawratil concludes.