The project aims to develop a system for creating and evaluating staging models of all sorts of performances in the theatrical, television, film and advertising industries. The models will be of use before the production process starts as well as during production.
CATS is an open, cost-effective, interactive, 3-D multimedia system which provides the world of entertainment with a high level user- and task-oriented interface. The interface can be used to create, maintain and evaluate staging models of a performance, plan and evaluate production costs, and provide a virtual presentation of the performance to potential sponsors and producers (using real-time audio-visual simulation).
The project will provide professionals who are not computer experts with a set of tightly integrated tools to support performance preparation, significantly reducing pre-production costs and production risks.
Although inspired by the theatre, itself the father of multimedia, one of the main aims of the project is to provide support for design, evaluation and presentation of a wide range of "shows" (drama, operetta, musical comedy, dance, cinema and television, theatre and television variety shows, commercial promotion, and public ceremonies, among others).
The system will enable all the elements of a show to be defined along with their dynamics (i.e. the actors' gestures, movements and voices, along with environmental sounds, music, lights, furnishings and other aspects of the performance). An audio-visual real-time simulation of the show will enable the user to evaluate the performance from an artistic point of view. A specific environment will enable the user to evaluate costs and resource allocations. The user will then be able to modify some aspects of the show or cut parts which are too expensive, with an immediate check on what the result will look like. It will be possible to repeat the process several times until the desired result is obtained. Finally, it will be possible to export the show models to more sophisticated animation or rendering tools for promotion and presentation.
The aim is to develop a PC-based, cost-effective, interactive system which integrates potentially heterogeneous software modules and data from the audio-visual and speech domains. The use of special hardware will be limited in order to contain the cost of the reference workstation. However, some special-purpose boards will be considered, especially for real-time 3-D simulation and support for text-to-speech synthesis. If such boards are used, preference will be given to boards which are fully compatible with standard PC architecture in order to transparently exploit the constantly increasing computational power of PCs.
The user-interface will be a critical aspect of the system because of the intrinsic complexity of the functionalities provided and because the system has to be accepted and used by people who are not computer experts. The consortium includes final users from three different communities who will contribute to the definition of the user-interface. Moreover, other potential customers outside the consortium will be involved in the evaluation of the specification of the system functionality and of the prototype system.
The project is planned to last 30 months and will produce a consolidated version of the CATS system and three pilot applications (three performances) developed using the system; these will be in the areas of cinema and television, theatre, and drama school.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts