Back in 2012 Draw & Code experimented with Wired Aerial Theatre to create The Lava Bud. This performance was one of the earliest stage shows to use both augmented reality and interactive projections.
The brief was Draw & Code’s own – this was to be Andy Cooper and Heidi Duff’s vision of the stage show of the future. The pair wrote The Lava Bud with the intention of realising the play as something Draw & Code’s creative director and studio manager aimed to create a vivid immersive technology experience combined with human performance with what was very cutting edge technology at the time.
The production was a collaboration between Draw & Code and Wired Aerial Theatre with support from Xtrax and R&D funding from Without Walls. This performance was to act as research into new ways for the audience and performers to interact with the action on stage during a theatrical performance. Draw & Code began researching ways to combine the spectacular Wired Aerial Theatre, experts in bungee-assisted dance, with the latest immersive technology. The Lava Bud was the result.
The story begins with a little girl coming to life, born from the molten spark of a magical volcano landing on the bud of a blossoming tree. She knows nothing of her magical origins, and does not realise her power. She is born into a fantastical land of mythical beasts. Flashing between comical adventures and dark discoveries, with each new friend she meets or adventure she encounters, she discovers her hidden power.
A painting created by Andy, Draw & Code’s creative director, emblazoned on a piece of discarded cardboard became the source of visual inspiration for the production. The world of The Lava Bud was to be a moving projected backdrop against which the performers would appear to be running headlong into the action.
The really juicy tech was the augmented reality elements. This invited viewers to hold up their smartphones or tablets at key moments in the action to see 2D and 3D characters emerge from the stage and into the space around the viewer. As a
It was one of the earliest examples of augmented reality used within stage performance – it took until Coachella 2018 for this style of interaction to hit the mainstream with Enimem’s AR-enabled set.
The R&D project was successfully completed with test performances in a warehouse in the North Liverpool docklands area. The research went on to inform a number of other Draw & Code projects as we continued to innovate in the areas of tech-enabled theatrical performance.