Thompson, Roger/Detroit Performs/November 15, 2015: Online

     For today’s creative minds all the world wide web is a stage. And all of us, especially those in the Virtual Theatricality Lab of Henry Ford Community College, are players.

     With their new work, Dinosaurus!, they are taking us on an adventure that is 65 million years in the making. For those interested players who enjoy the arts and sciences of cinema, we can’t wait for this show to appear. The production will be staged in November and December in the Adray Auditorium on the HFCC main campus at 5101 Evergreen Road, Dearborn, Michigan.

     Henry Ford College’s Virtual Theatricality Lab is the only venue outside of USC in California that is doing such innovative and advanced explorations of digital technology and live performance.

     Created for young people ages 1-5, Dinosaurus! combines digital technology, stage performance, and filmmaking. In the story, two petroleum engineers discover a lost world, hidden in a giant cavern below the earth since the Cretaceous Period. Living there are the descendants of the dinosaurs — intelligent creatures with a distinct perspective brought to life by the voices of talented human actors. Their stage presence is projected digitally. The audience sits on the stage, a place filled with sound, fury, mist, and smoke, wearing 3-D goggles that make it feel like they are 10-feet away from the action.

     Henry Ford College’s production of Dinosaurus! promises to be the theatrical experience of a lifetime for children and families. We media types are getting a sneak peek next week on a show that promises to be something special. We’ll report in full and give readers a sneak peek at the future of filmmaking and some of cinema’s future leading players — the men and women creating works that combine humanity’s genius for storytelling and technology.

From the HFCC Virtual Theatricality Lab:

     Production has commenced on the HFCC Virtual Theatricality Lab’s next show, Dinosaurus! by Edward Mast and Lenore Besinger. Dinosaurus! is an entertaining and educational play with an ecological theme. The show examines what occurs when a team of oil explorers discovers a colony of dinosaurs deep beneath the earth’s surface. The dinosaurs in this show are animated characters: they talk and are onstage as much as their real, human counterparts. The dinosaurs and scenery will be designed and animated by VTL chief animator Chris Dozier who previously provided the creatures and digital scenery for the VTL’s 2006 production of The Skriker.

     The audience will sit on the stage with audience capacity per show at 80. The thirty-six feet width of HFCC’s Adray auditorium stage will be covered with HD 3D stereo projections, including those of animated dinosaurs synced to live onstage action. The 3D stereo effect will make the dinosaurs appear 10’ from the closest spectator. Audience members will wear 3D stereo polarized glasses to view the show. So-called “4D” effects will also be included in the production. “4D’ is a term used by theme parks to denote a physical effect that corresponds with a 3D animated effect. (It is raining in the animation and real water is splashed on the audience).

     A highlight of Dinosaurus! will be a dinosaur dance created by the VTL’s Motion Capture Capabilities.

     HFCC Theatre Arts students, under the direction of Dr. George Popovich, director of the VTL and Director of Theatre are currently creating “guide videos” as well as voices for the show. In a guide video, actors portray the parts of the animated character. This helps the animator model the characters after the actors’ mannerisms and characteristics. This technique was used by director Gore Verbinski in Rango, a film that won the academy award for best-animated feature in 2011.

     Dinosaurus! is currently scheduled for presentation in November of 2014.

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