7 Ways AR Storytellers Can Learn From Theater Design

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All over the world, from Tokyo to Los Angeles, from Berlin to Paris, from London to New York, places are becoming new places to perceive our daily environment differently via augmented reality on mobile phones. Personal computing migrates from the one-way 2D screen to the mobile camera lens / 3D view, rapidly changing the rules of UX / UI design. Where are you going to anchor digital content? How are you going to make your users feel? How does the AR designer respond?

Everyone is a stage

Current architectural, product, or UX design methodologies alone are not enough to deliver superb, immersive augmented reality experiences. Immersive AR experiences are a type of storytelling where the design should strive to serve the story, whether it’s the work of a single visionary writer or the individual’s local social histories. The reason, in part, that Samuel Beckett and Henrik Ibsen are among the most influential theatrical innovators of the past two centuries is their monastic attention to design.

For designers who want to create great experiences, there is a history of design that can inform their work even if they have to experiment with a new medium. “Place to see” is the source etymology of the word “theater” from the ancient Greek “theatron” and it is theater design that offers seven practical ideas for augmented reality design.

1. Define the staging

Staging“Refers to” anything that is placed on the stage or in front of the camera, including people. In other words, staging is a catch-all for anything that contributes to the visual presentation and overall look of a production. Translated from French, it means “to stage”. »Recognizing the size, shape and layout of an indoor / outdoor space directs staging, ultimately the design aspect of theatrical production. It is the visual theme or the telling of a story.

Upon entering a theater of any kind, a viewer enters a specific space, designed to produce a particular reaction or series of responses, the reception of that space becomes part of the total theatrical experience. What will the AR experience cause?

2. Use proxemics

The Apple AR

Where to anchor the content? What should be the scale of digital content in this location? How should this make the user feel? By answering such design questions, combining unique location, digital content, and storytelling, augmented reality experiences can avoid becoming stagnant and billboard-like.

3. Use the composition

The pleasing arrangement of actors / digital content in the theater venue map / map for the AR experience that lets the audience / users know where to look at any given time. The development of a ground plan indicates the proxemic potential of the actors / digital content and the theatrical space. The goal is to discover dramatic actions and to illustrate them in the simplest possible way by emphasis or contrast. The composition requires no movement, it is static movement captured in time and space, leading the audience to see what the AR UX director / designer considers essential. It is clarity like a still life of the scene at a given moment.

4. Use blocking

“Theater demands democracy for the same experience from all angles,” notes set designer Es Delvin, whose clients include Kanye West, U2 and the Royal Opera House, and this blocks the choreography of the play / AR experience that promotes such a . This is to clarify the movement of actors / digital content or users and the unique relationships of the characters. The physical distance between people can be linked to social, cultural and environmental factors, even emphasizing the development of character and intrigue. Something as simple as strategic placement, lighting, and controls can take an emotional toll on the user.

Above: Es Delvin’s AR for Kanye West

5. Use imaging

A process by which we add meaning, the narrative aspect of the blockage. Set designer Minglu Wang says: “I not only draw what the audience can see on stage, but also the empty space that they cannot see. Imaging tries to convey the subtext – meaning that may not be supported by words. It is the visual interpretation of every movement in play so that the dramatic nature of the situation is presented to the audience / users without recourse to dialogue and action. It allows the designer to explore and discover. In Japanese theater, “Mie” or “frozen moment” is a powerful and emotional pose taken by an actor who then freezes for a moment. It is meant to show a character’s emotions at their peak, those that remain in the viewer’s mind.

6. Collaborate within a vision

The AR Designer is a leader of collaborators working towards a single vision similar to a scenographer, who is responsible for all the aesthetics of a performance. In a recent project supported by Google and architect David Adjaye at the Serpentine Gallery, Hyde Park, London, artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen had to lead a diverse team to realize his AR application with collaborators including a technical director, curator, a producer, developers (including Unreal developers), user interface and graphics designers, field recorder, sound designer, audio developer, researcher, narrator and subject matter experts from the British Natural History Museum.

7. Design for the human place

What is the theater for? According to Ariane Mnouchkine, winner of the Ibsen Theater Prize and co-founder of the Théâtre du Soleil, “the theater is a ritual, you have to leave the theater stronger and more human than when you entered it… the epic theater is the place where the public shares a moment of consciousness. ”In Berlin, the MauAr app allows visitors to see how the Berlin Wall changed and grew over the years before falling in 1989. One of the goals of the creator of the application was to “understand what it was to live in a dictatorship and then transform what it is not to live in a dictatorship, and how much freedom, democracy and human rights are. precious.

Here are the storytellers

Simon McBurney’s 2018 staging of “The Encounter” at the London Barbican was minimalist, with sound deployed to immerse audiences in the play’s setting, the Amazon jungle. It illustrates how spatial design doesn’t just mean designing the space on the stage, but the space inside the audience’s head. Es Delvin remarks that “directors are aware of the transience of what they do. In the end, everything will only exist in people’s memory.

With the emerging mobile technology of AR, the creation of imaginary theatrical worlds totally independent of the temporal and spatial constraints of the physical world is gradually becoming quite possible. As a play’s script is nothing without a successful performance on stage, an idea of ​​an immersive augmented reality experience is nothing without the careful direction of a lead designer. Our societies have always been shaped by storytellers, and the best AR designers will serve the next generation of great storytellers.

By combining knowledge of humanities and technology, Christopher Mc Alorum writes about emerging technologies that enrich the landscape. Its website is www.christopher-mcalorum.com.

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