July heralded the start of one of our busiest periods yet – with the Performance Capture Intensive, lots of Fight Directing, teaching at the MET Film School, West End Workshops, and work with Thrice Ninth Productions’ Henry IV Part 1. It’s not letting up from here.
PERFORMANCE CAPTURE INTENSIVE: With CCi Motion Capture Lab
What can be said? This intensive course, the first of its kind in the UK (and we are pretty sure, in Europe) was absolutely astounding.
Eleven highly motivated and talented students joined us at The University of Portsmouth Creative Technologies Department (headed by Alex Counsell). The students came from a diverse range of performance backgrounds, which greatly contributed to the depth and texture of the course – including actors, stunt performers, martial artists, circus performers, acrobats, gymnasts and actor combatants.
Over the five days, the students were thrown into an intense week of training specifically for performance capture and motion capture, with classes designed to open their creative pathways, develop and stretch their physical performance range, and explore how to best bring out their existing performance specialties for this medium.
After an introduction to the technology and some general play time, we covered physical story-telling, gaming, imagination techniques, animal transformation, creature creation, combat, and scene work in solo, duo and groups. Each of the Captivate Directors lead a different day of the intensive: our Dance Director Amir Giles, Movement Director Gabrielle Moleta, Fight Director Lyndall Grant and teacher/Mo-cap Performer Andrew Young.
The workshops culminated in a ‘watch-back’ session – made possible by the amazing tech team, Alex Counsell, George Sears and Daniel Baybutt, working tirelessly to process that day’s data by the afternoon. Incredible.
Overall it was such a wonderful experience, and it has to be said – a huge success. However it was only made so by the notable openness, tolerance, focus and enthusiasm shown by all involved.
SHAKESPEARE’S HENRY IV PART 1, THRICE NINTH PRODUCTIONS
This month saw the start of rehearsals for Thrice Ninth Productions’ new Henry IV Part 1, which will run at The Rose Playhouse in August. Three of our Captivate Artist Team are returning to work with Thrice Ninth as actors who are also advanced fight performers: Frank Teale as Hotspur, Andrew Young as Prince Hal, and Lyndall Grant as Lady Percy and the company’s Fight Director.
With the fights set at the climax of the play, Lyndall is utilising the full skill and range of the advanced actor-combatants in designing the choreography. The piece is set in a modern corporate environment, with lots of room for use of ‘found weapons’ and furniture. It promises to be an exciting project.
Rehearsals are taking place at the beautiful Wushi Studios in Islington.
FIGHT DIRECTING: THE LONG ROAD SOUTH and OTHELLO
We have been involved in two further Fight Directing projects for theatre this month – working with Director Jake Murray for Paul Minx’s new play The Long Road South at The Hope Theatre; and Erratic Dramatic’s Othello.
Both plays are up to run in August.
MET FILM SCHOOL: FIGHTING FOR FILM WORKSHOP
Lyndall and Andrew Young headed across to Marlborough to teach a workshop in Fighting For Film for the MET Film Summer School. As is always the case, we were met with wild enthusiasm and energy from the students (and, perhaps even more so, from the tutors) for throwing themselves into fights. The students were taken the basics of creating the illusion of fighting for film, and given notes on technical and artistic factors for an actor to keep in mind for this medium. Finally the session culminated in our own film fight choreography, and mass brawl scene. Huge well done to all involved.
ACTOR’S CENTRE LONDON: ‘DIRTY, GRITTY, NASTY’ WORKSHOP
In today’s theatre and film, a very common request for fight direction is to have ‘just a scuffle’ which looks like it’s not choreographed. This has most likely sprung from what we would call ‘STAGED’ combat – ie. dramatic combat that either hasn’t been arranged or performed effectively. However in reality all good dramatic violence should look as though it’s ‘not choreographed’. That being said, the art of performing dramatic fights which look scrappy, visceral and organic actually requires a high level of physical awareness, control and communication – and do need to be choreographed!
This was taken to students at The Actor’s Centre in the Dirty, Gritty, Nasty workshop – with 3 hours of underhand and seemingly ‘opportunistic’ scrapping with each other. The work that came from the session was most impressive. The finale was incorporating these style of fights into their own individual scenes, which were performed with just the right amount of grit and nastiness to slightly disturb the rest of the class in the right kind of way.
ARTS ED SCHOOL OF ACTING, LONDON Industry Talk: Acting for Performance Capture
Early this month Lyndall returned to her old drama school to talk to the second year BA Acting students on working in Performance Capture. And what a lovely bunch! The students were given an introduction to the technology, what kind of work is opening up, what happens during a shoot and what they can do to increase their chances of working in this field. It was a great session, with the students very keen and switched on to what they need to learn.
IT’S OUR BIRTHDAY!!
We are very happy indeed to say that this is our birthday month!
The idea for team which trains and works in Performance Capture was born from working with Michelle Ladd and Carry Thiel at the 2012-2013 Paddy Crean Workshop, Banff. In early May 2013 this idea grew into developing Captivate as a company, and we officially incorporated on 22 May 2013.
We took this first anniversary as an opportunity to thank all the people who have shown support, enthusiasm and commitment to Captivate – and let’s face it, in these early years, without so many people sharing their skills and energy to the company we could not have come so far so quickly. The Captivate Family had a great night of merriment and cheer – here’s to another brilliant year!
ACTOR’S CENTRE LONDON: FIGHTING FOR FILM WORKSHOP
This month Lyndall returned to the Actor’s Centre in London for a full day of Fighting for Film. Ten acting students filled the room to learn the basics of how we create the illusion of fighting on screen. After a morning of demonstrations, play and exploration, the students were then all given scenes and choreography to film under ‘industry conditions’. The results were fantastic, and it was a great day all round. After great feedback, Lyndall will be returning to the Actors Centre to deliver the workshop again on Friday 31st October 2014.
BRISTOL COMBAT SPRING TERM – BADC LEVELS TWO and THREE
The Bristol Team is back in full-swing, with the start of another BADC Level 2 (Intermediate) and 3 (Advanced) course. Once again have a sell-out class, and a team of incredibly keen and fiesty fighters!
BRISTOL EASTER INTENSIVE – DRAMATIC COMBAT BADC LEVELS TWO and THREE
Easter saw us head to Bristol for two weeks, for the Easter Intensive Dramatic Combat course at the Tobacco Factory. A full classroom of very hard-working students spent two weeks training full-time for their BADC Levels 2 (Intermediate) or 3 (Advanced).
Interspersed with this, the students were lucky enough to take extra classes with Wushi Taiji Quan Master Michael Acton, gaining access to breath, relaxation, awareness and fluidity for combat through tai chi. We also had an amazing Swashbuckling session with the great Jonathan Howell, with all the flair and performance that we want to excite an audience.
Overall it was a fantastic fortnight, and the students did us very proud in their exams.
For further information on Taiji and Qigong training with Michael Acton, do visit their website: www.wutaijiandqigong.co.uk
ROMEO AND JULIET – BIRDIEDOES
April also saw us return to work with Birdiedoes on their production of Romeo and Juliet, with the mass Montague vs Capulet battle at the start of the piece. Great work by the cast to throw themselves into the choreography.
March has been particularly busy – juggling Performance Capture Director training at The Imaginarium with Spacific Films, private tuition in stage combat, fight directing Romeo and Juliet for theatre company Birdiedoes, and taking the Tobacco Factory BADC Level One class through the final classes before their exam.
TRAINING IN DIRECTING FOR PERFORMANCE CAPTURE: WITH SPACIFIC FILMS AND THE IMAGINARIUM STUDIOS
Early March Lyndall worked with Director Leanne Pooley from Spacific Films to provide training in directing for Performance Capture. The training session was hosted at The Imaginarium Studios, with the team collaborating to provide a fantastic opportunity for exploring and developing techniques.
Over the next year Leanne and Spacific Films will be creating an animated feature documentary on the Gallipoli Landings to commemorate their 100 year anniversary. The film, 25 April, will use a number of animation techniques including performance capture to retell events from contemporary accounts.
Captivate Performer Andrew Young did a fantastic job throwing himself around as a WWI soldier for the session, and it was great to work with the generous team at the Imaginarium. The following day Performer Frank Teale continued the good work, as the ‘body’ we used to demonstrate ways of directing movement for injury, death and combat. Thanks also to Ben Porter for the photography, and for tagging in as a performer for fight scenes at the end of the day.
Huge thanks to all involved.
FIGHT DIRECTING: ROMEO AND JULIET WITH BIRDIEDOES THEATRE COMPANY
New theatre company Birdiedoes are gracing the scene with their new production of Romeo and Juliet. Lyndall has been in to start training the cast and fight directing the traditional rapier fighting and group brawling for this production. The show will be staged in May and June at The Space in London, and the Underground Theatre in Eastbourne.
BRISTOL COMBAT: BADC LEVEL ONE COURSE AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY and PRIVATE TUITION
Captivate’s first team of Level One BADC students completed their training and took their exam at the end of March. All the examining students passed with fantastic results, joined by Emma Vickery who took an Advanced Single Weapon study in hand-and-a-half broadsword as a private class to prepare her for a role with Illyria Theatre Company (kudos to Illyria for insisting all actors involved with fighting have an advanced certification).
FIGHT DIRECTING AND PERFORMANCE: THRICE NINTH PRODUCTIONS NEW PLAY, IN THE THRICE NINTH KINGDOM
The Captivate Team featured in the production of new play In the Thrice Ninth Kingdom by Thrice Ninth Productions, staged this month at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London’s West End.
Captivate Artist Team members Frank Teale, Andrew Young and Lyndall Grant performed as actors heavily involved in fight roles; with Lyndall also Fight Directing for the piece.
The play was a brutal exploration into what people are prepared to do to find a ‘better world’, questioning the audience what they themselves would do, what actions they think are ‘right’ and whether they can pass judgement on others.
Supported by UK Charity the Kaleidoscope Trust, the piece played to capacity audiences for the run, including for a Q&A night featuring prominent speakers on international and LGBT rights such as BBC Journalist Paul Henley, and former director of Global Affairs at the Foreign Office, Phillipa Drew.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
It promises to be an exciting year, with Captivate moving into the second-half of our first year on the scene. Coming up already… we have our UK-exclusive intensive training week for Performance Capture (July), the Fight the Good Fight dramatic combat workshop with Felicity Steel in Bristol (August), BADC training courses and intensives throughout the year, Fight Directing in London, Performance Capture with the CCi Motion Capture Lab… and that’s before we’ve properly opened our diaries.
Thanks to everyone we have worked with so far – looking forward to the next phase now in 2014.
PERFORMANCE CAPTURE WITH CCi MOTION CAPTURE LAB, THE UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
Lyndall Grant and Andrew Young returned to the University of Portsmouth this month to capture fight clips for their motion capture unit (as part of the BSc (hons) Computer Animation). Using broadsword and unarmed fighting scenes, Lyndall and Andy created profressively more difficult material for the students to use as part of their training. Again, it was a fantastic day to work with the CCi Team.
IN THE THRICE NINTH KINGDOM PLAY: FIGHT DIRECTION AND PERFORMANCE
The Captivate Team are working with Thrice Ninth Productions for their new play, In the Thrice Ninth Kingdom. Rehearsals started this month, with Andrew Young, Frank Teale and Lyndall featuring as performers and fighters. Lyndall is also fight directing for the piece, with fight rehearsals well under way. The play will be run at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London’s West End next month.
December has topped off a pretty remarkable start to Captivate for 2013. After just a few months from opening, we are very pleased to have the support of so many colleagues and artists, and to have developed some fine new relationships. 2014 is promising to bring great work and ground-breaking projects.
CCi MOTION CAPTURE, THE UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
Recently the Captivate Performance Directors spend a day with the CCi Motion Capture team for an R&D day into direction and performance for motion capture.
Lyndall Grant (Fight Director), Gabrielle Moleta (Movement Director) and Amir Giles (Dance Director) took the opportunity to play with different qualities of movement, energy, and story-telling to really bring the captured images to life. The discoveries were very significant for enhancing future work.
THE ACTORS CENTRE, LONDON: Dramatic Combat Workshop
The last month of 2013 kicked off with a return to the Actors Centre, this time to take a workshop in ‘Actioning the Fight’. The students explored using ‘actions’ as an acting technique informing choices and intentions within a fight, to help maintain a textured character journey – with some fascinating scenes coming out as a result. The workshop was a great success, with kudos to the actors for throwing themselves into the work.
‘MONGREL COUNTRY’ SHORT FILM
Captivate was please to be involved with Mediorite in working on the short film, ‘Mongrel Country’, to oversee stunts. Actress Alicia Bayly did a fantastic job throwing herself repeatedly on a (relatively manky) wet toilet floor.
The project was a collaborative project with charity SHP (supporting homeless and vulnerable people in London, and promoting social inclusion) – giving new creatives the opportunity to write and produce their own short film. The atmosphere on set was palpably positive, friendly and professional, and it was a pleasure to work with such an inspirational team. This is the third short film created by SHP, the previous two having been shown at the BFI.
Captivate has just returned from an amazing month in Australia… and what a great response to stage combat from the Aussies.
BENDIGO SOUTH EAST COLLEGE
Lyndall returned to her home-town of Bendigo in Victoria, to work with the year 9 and 10 drama students at Bendigo South East College. She was blown away by the enthusiasm, maturity and openness of the students there – a credit to the staff and the students themselves.
NEXUS YOUTH THEATRE
Back to Bendigo, Lyndall was thrilled to work with the Nexus Youth Theatre, with an unarmed stage combat workshop for 38 willing students, and a second class for local drama teachers and actors. Again she found it a joy to work with all the students – and witnessed the remarkable sight of all 38 students following instructions and committing full energy. Nexus Youth Theatre are doing some impressive work, generating a love of theatre in the local youth and fostering developing creatives. They are worth a look, and support.
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT WORKSHOP
For a full 7-days Lyndall teamed up with local SAFDi Fight Professional Felicity Steel, in teaching the FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT WORSHOP. A sell-out team of students threw themselves into a week of learning how to create safe and effective fights for stage and screen. The first day started with Lyndall featuring on ABC Melbourne Radio with Red Symonds to talk about the course.
After this, classes included unarmed, sword-work, swashbuckling, blood effects, film fighting, knife work, staff work, contact improvisation, and acting classes. The students committed their all, and the results showed. Huge thanks to all for making it such a successful workshop.
BRISTOL STAGE COMBAT CLASSES AT THE TOBACCO FACTORY
This term’s Level Two (Intermediate) BADC certification course has just concluded, with the students taking their exam last Tuesday. And I have to say, they smashed it – with fantastic results all round.
The exam was the culmination of 6 weeks training in Broadsword, Quarterstaff, and Rapier with Gauntlett; with the results reflecting some very hard work and training from all the students. Lyndall is a very proud teacher indeed.
This was the first full certification course run by Captivate – and here is the successful class:
The Level One (Standard) BADC course has opened bookings for the Jan-March term – and there are only three spots left. It seems Bristol has an appetite for dramatic combat.
And then next up is the Easter Intensive for Levels 2 and 3, all set to make it a great start to 2014.
See CURRENT WORKSHOPS AND COURSES if you would like to join us.
For any other enquiries please get in touch.
MO-CAP: PLAYING AT PORTSMOUTH
Lyndall and Faisal Ahmed Mian recently spent a day capturingTaiiji and Kung Fu with the University of Portsmouth CCi Motion Capture team. The day culminated with Lyndall placing Faisal on a ‘battlefield’, ‘surrounded by orcs’, ‘defending his village’ – and this is what Faisal gave us:
For a first-time play we can already see the potential emerging…
As usual the team at Portsmouth, headed by Alex Counsell, were very generous with giving us time to get into some suits and play with different movement types, performance and arrangement. Faisal, a 6th generation successor of Wu Shi Taiji Quan and Qigong, was given reign in the volume – capturing rare taiji forms and experimenting with expression. This is all paving the way for more exciting research projects to follow – watch this space.
Thanks again to Alex, to brilliant motion capture tracker Krisztián Kinder (1st class honours degree graduate from the Portsmouth BSc Computer Animation Course), and to computer animation student George Sears for excellent cleaning of the footage.
ACTOR’S CENTRE WORKSHOP: SWORDPLAY FOR SHAKESPEARE
The word ‘sword’ is mentioned in every Shakespeare play but two. Anthony and Cleopatra and Henry VI Part Two top the charts, each with 28 mentions. Almost half of Shakespeare’s plays have fighting in the script, let alone what a director decides to add.
This last Friday 25th October, Lyndall taught a Swordplay for Shakespeare workshop at The Actor’s Centre in Central London. The students explored the significance of swords and swordplay in the context of Elizabethan society, and why they are so prevalent the theatre.
After learning theatrical rapier technique the students were then thrown into a ‘fight scene’ scenario for Shakespearean theatre, each group working with Lyndall as fight director to create their own sequence for the Romeo-Tybalt-Mercutio fight from Romeo and Juliet.
Overall it was a great day, with the final scenes looking fantastic.
Lyndall will return to the Actors Centre on December 6th for a workshop in ‘Actioning the Fight’.
Short Film Shoot – Working Title Superhuman
Recently Lyndall was Fight Directing for Free YOURStyle’s ident for their new television series. This Ident: ‘Black Russian vs William Hawksmoor…
Superheros, Ninjas, Butterflies… it’s all intriguing. For this ident we were filming in the Grecian Masonic Temple at Liverpool Street – a truly stunning and atmospheric location (as seen in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes). Actors Barra Collins and Nadia Sohawon did an amazing job throwing themselves around the marbled floors, fighting unarmed and with rapiers. And, yes, in between shots we were pushing tiles and chair rests to see if any secret passages opened up.