Combining AR With Live Performance

Rhondda Rips It Up! is a musical comedy presented by Welsh National Opera (WNO). The tongue-in-cheek production is a whirlwind tour of the life and adventures of a heroine of the Welsh Suffrage movement – Margaret Haig Thomas, the Viscountess Rhondda.

Known as an innovator in the world of opera, WNO wanted to enhance the production value of the musical, further engage audiences, and augment the narrative in a very visual way. WNO also wanted to further its continued experimentation with new mediums to bring new audiences into traditional performance.

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An Immersive Digital Music Experience

Following on from the success of Magic Butterfly – the reimagining of Magic Flute and Madam Butterfly in VR – WNO approached REWIND to invigorate Rhondda Rips It Up.

Taking a key scene from the musical – the courtroom trial – REWIND used AR to digitally enhance it and then worked with WNO to blend the AR with the performance and music to create a new stimulating experience.

For its premiere at Sessions House in Usk, the AR experience will sync to a live theatre performance, placing Rhondda in the court trial with live actors and spatialized audio. As the experience progresses, Rhondda moves to different locations around the courtroom, interacting with the actors as a live recreation of the original case is created for the audience. In order to place Rhondda correctly throughout the performance, AR tracking markers will be hidden within the court environment, with a networking setup also in play to ensure everything is synced to the millisecond.

After the premiere, Rhondda Rebel AR will be touring as an innovative installation in locations across Wales and England. Through a portal that appears in front of them, users will be given a direct look into the trial itself, without necessitating the use of live actors. The portal was created using multiple 2D objects, with parallax utilised to give the user a sense of a full 3D environment.

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