Avatar Farm - Inhabited Television

Avatar Farm was staged in Nottingham in June 2000, developed many ideas from earlier eRENA projects, including Heaven and Hell-Live and Out of This World. Set within four fantastical electronic worlds, Avatar Farm aimed to create, both for participants and for those watching a linear webcast, an engaging story and believable characters. Earlier Inhabited Television projects had demonstrated the technical potential of the form, but before Avatar Farm none of the other events had proved to be engaging for an audience.

Professional actors and members of the public took on the personae of avatars and engaged in a semi-scripted, tightly plotted fable involving gods and tricksters, innocents abroad, lizards and purple tufts. The settings and some of those taking part were carried over from Ages of Avatar, a collaborative project with Sky's [.tv] channel in Britain.

Avatar Farm was mounted utilising Nottingham's MASSIVE-3 collaborative virtual environment system. Each of four 20-minute episodes was mixed as television and webcast, but every 3-D detail of all the events within the widely dispersed worlds was also captured, along with the audio. Indeed during the episodes, fully 3-D playbacks of earlier events were triggered and viewed in the worlds.

MASSIVE-3's sophisticated functionality enables this 3-D recording and playback, which can also be utilised as a powerful post-production system for the creation of new kinds of animation and virtual experiences. In the summer of 2000, for example, simultaneous scenes from different viewpoints within Avatar Farm were projected in the immersive environment of ZKM's EVE dome. In MASSIVE-3, and specifically in the system called temporal links that facilitates these capabilities, eRENA has nurtured a tool for the art of tomorrow with a myriad of potential uses.

Illuminations and MRL at University of Nottingham with BT (Adastral Park) and CID at KTH Stockholm

More information:
Third Demonstration of Inhabited Television
Mixed Reality Group Interaction
Second Demonstration of Inhabited Television
Demonstration and Evaluation of Inhabited Television
Mixed Reality Interfaces for Inhabited Television
Evaluating Out of This World

Avatar Farm (2000)
Realisation: Illuminations (John Wyver, CJ Brazier, Seb Grant, Henry Johnson, Jen Resnick), MRL at University of Nottingham (Steve Benford, Mike Craven, Adam Drozd, Chris Greenhalgh, Jim Purbrick, Ian Taylor) and BT (Jason Morphett, Tim Regan)
Design: Amanda Oldroyd
Conception and story: Alex Butterworth
Broadcast director: Rena Butterwick
Acting director: George Ormond
Actors: Marva Alexander, Melody Brown, Craig Cremin, Burn Gorman, Graeme Hawley, Adrian Lochhead, Eamonn Riley
Players: Carl Bullen, Jennifer Higgins, James Mathrick, Michael Smith