Cirque du Soleil will use HoloLens to design shows

Cirque du Soleil took to stage to demonstrate how augmented reality could change the way we work at a recent Microsoft event. Now further details have emerged on the partnership with Microsoft on how the company plan on tesing new setups and choreography in AR.

Chantal Tremblay, the director of creation for Cirque du Soleil explained that it takes the company about 18 to 24 months to go from the beginning of the process that involves choosing a theme for a show to finalize it for releasing it to the public. Much of that time is spent building the show’s sets at Cirque’s studios in Montreal. This is where HoloLens creates the most opportunity. With HoloLens, Cirque scenic designer Carl Fillion said, the company will “be able to visualize the same stage and all the equipment into the same studios at real scale” months before construction. “We are closer than ever to a perfect creation tool,” he said.

Tremblay and Fillion showed off during a demo how HoloLens could help its processes and speed up the end to end timeframe. They were able to move and manipulate live objects and even bring in a remote co-worker who was repesented by a virtual avatar. By the end of the demo there was a full life-sized version of a potential Cirque du Soleil set complete with dancers, showing a significant reduction in the time taken to go from concept to design.

“To be able to see that so early in the process is amazing and totally new,” Tremblay said. “Usually we have to wait until we finalize our casting and the artists come to Montreal, but now by looking at it we could even make changes” to the performance, or even change the casting call based on those real-time design choices, she said.

This was just the start for Cirque du Soliel with HoloLens and what they envisage the collaboration with Microsoft can offer.

“What you just saw was a custom solution done in collaboration with an incredible partner,” Microsoft’s Alex Kipman said. And while he said the goal is for Cirque du Soleil to use these tools in “future live shows,” the demo was also clearly meant as a pitch for the developers in the audience. “Imagine the transformative power if these are applications created by you,” he said.

It’s great to see augmented reality being applied to real world use past the usual typical applications and actually being used to speed up tasks that would otherwise take significantly longer.

This is definitely one to keep your eye on as it develops and HoloLens becomes more mainstream.

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