London Symphony's Sir Simon Rattle Moves Captured
July 13, 2017

London Symphony's Sir Simon Rattle Moves Captured

Vicon,   motion capture technology specialist for the entertainment, engineering and life sciences industries, has collaborated with acclaimed conductor Sir Simon Rattle to deliver the new visual identity for the London Symphony Orchestra, created by branding and design agency The Partners.

With the recent appointment of Sir Simon Rattle as music director, The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) set about reviewing its visual communications to mark a new chapter in its prestigious 113-year history. The LSO and the team from The Partners wanted Sir Simon to be at the very heart of the new identity and enlisted the help of the University of Portsmouth’s School of Creative Technologies and Vicon to achieve this goal. Using motion capture technology to track and record Sir Simon’s movements, the gestures of his conducting baton have formed the basis of the new visual identity. 

Employing ground-breaking tracking technology delivered by 12 Vicon Vantage cameras, the University of Portsmouth’s School of Creative Technologies captured Sir Simon’s conducting movements to excerpts of Elgar’s Variations on an Original Theme, ‘Enigma’ at the Barbican. By covering a specially modified conductor’s baton with reflective markers and using a motion capture suit and gloves, the university mocap team tracked Sir Simon’s upper body, arm, hand and finger movements. The Vantage system captured the movement at 120 frames per second, which resulted in precise and accurate data capture.

With time limited in Sir Simon’s hectic diary with the London Symphony Orchestra, the select team had a 45-minute window to complete the capture. Using a combination of Vicon’s Vantage cameras and Control App, the time taken to set-up the system was dramatically reduced compared with a traditional setup. In the past this would have been a multi-crew job, however with intelligent monitoring Vantage, allowed the scaled team maximum time to capture Sir Simon’s movements. Selecting and calibrating the cameras using the app, provided the team with the opportunity to utilize the system efficiently and with greater flexibility.

The Partners then worked with a digital artist, Tobias Gremmler, to transform the data into a series of animated films, bringing to life the sheer power of music at its full force, in a vortex of wood, brass, smoke and strings, with the sweeping gestures of Sir Simon rendered in wires reminiscent of the strings of the instruments themselves. 

Collectively the animated film and subsequent stills form a visual language that introduces the LSO’s 2017/18 season, as well as providing the basis for additional visual interpretations including photography of the individual players in full, passionate motion, and two custom headline typefaces, used in communications, to reflect the conductor’s movements during extremes of musical expressions.

Alex Counsell, principal technician at the University of Portsmouth, led the mocap team. He said: “Because of the high resolution of the Vantage cameras we could produce extremely accurate data to perfectly represent Sir Simon’s movements. Using Vicon Blade tracking software allowed us to preview the capture in real time, and gave us the ability to instantly see Sir Simon’s conducting movements after each take and effectively make the most of his time.”   

“Capturing a new visual language for the iconic London Symphony Orchestra was a challenging and engaging project from both an artistic and technical point of view,” said Imogen Moorhouse, CEO at Vicon. “The finished identity is a testament to the team’s creativity and inspirational to others, wanting to find new ways to expand the boundaries of motion capture using Vicon technology. Capturing the movements of Sir Simon Rattle allows audiences to appreciate his talent from a unique perspective that would not otherwise be possible!”