Multiple core technologies support metaverse theater festival
Published: Apr 16, 2023 10:07 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Meng Jinghui

Photo: Courtesy of Meng Jinghui

China's first metaverse theater festival kicked off in Beijing on Saturday. With various AI-related technology set to be used during the 23-day festival, the theater productions aim to break the boundaries of time and space to provide avant-garde experiences to audiences throughout China.

This is the first time ever that a theater festival has tried to ­integrate itself with the notion of the metaverse, which  director Meng Jinghui described as "a chance, and a start for this art form." 

The theater festival kicked off at the Fengchao Theater in Beijing with a drama directed by Meng, the play Faust, a combined show where VR technology is used in the first half of the play. 

The first 15 minutes of the drama is moved to the virtual world where audience can follow the steps of the protagonist by wearing VR goggles, before they take them off and enjoy the performance by the actors. 

Other plays also witnessed a combination of live performances and the use of high technology.

Meng explained that the launch of the metaverse theater festival could not have been achieved without the support of many core technologies including virtual reality, artificial intelligence and blockchain technology.

"By using virtual reality, we can take audiences to another world where they can immerse themselves in the drama," Meng said.

The festival opening also witnessed an AI host MERROR, a virtual person for the festival created using AIGC and TTS technologies.

"There is limited space inside a venue such as the Fengchao Theater. However, in a virtual world, the space is infinite. We believe that the metaverse can reproduce the artist's imagination without fail. And it should be the carrier of the next generation of art," said Hei Yu, CEO of Dayou, the Chinese tech company responsible for the festival's technology support.

By breaking the restrictions of time and space, the festival will also reach ­audiences globally in cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, New York and Paris.

The appearance of AI also brings along challenges to this artform, Meng said, however, digital technology has brought unprecedented opportunities to the theater industry. 

"We need to make full use of the advantages of digital technology, and continue to explore and expand new experiences in theatrical art."