This project, involving a mobile theatre stage, was conceived following an association between the Robotics Laboratory and the LANTISS (LAboratoire des Nouvelles Technologies de l'Image, du Son et de la Scène, i.e. LAboratory of New Technologies for Images, Sound and Stages). The project described herein are part of the first major project of the Lantiss, involving the design of an electronic castelet (miniature theatre). This miniature theatre is a model, one tenth of the size of a theatre space, which is equipped with several technological performance elements including: motorized lighting, image projection, augmented reality and a deformable stage. The most important quality of this technological model is to unite various media within the same tool. 

    Fig. 1: Dynamically reconfigurable theatre stage.

    The electronic miniature theatre can be used in two different ways. The miniature theatre can serve as a creation tool, similar to a standard model. The designers can then conceive their theatre productions without having to use an actual theatre hall and all of the equipment in the actual theatre. In this way, they can adjust not only the sets and the movements of the actors, but also the lighting, sound and other technological parameters. The miniature theatre can also be used as a stage on which a production is actually put on for an audience. Thus, miniature theatre productions can be presented with puppets, for example (Figure 2). These productions can be given in front of a small audience or can be filmed and then projected in a large hall. 

    Fig. 2: High-tech puppet show using the miniature stage.

    Mechanically, the mobility of the stage is generated by a multitude of small blocks. These blocks are combined into groups of nine to form modules. By grouping together several modules, one next to the other, one can form a stage. More specifically, the nine blocks of a module are linked together by a parallel mechanism composed of bars and revolute joints (Figure 3). The entire system is actuated by four motors. 

    Fig. 3: Planar (a) and isotric (b) view of a stage module, composed of bars and revolute joints.

    The stage of the castelet is made of 12 modules including 9 blocks each (module described before) and 13 modules, mechanically simpler, with only one block. Globally with the 25 modules built, the maximum surface that can be covered is one square meter. 

    Fig. 4: Modules of the stage with 1 and 9 blocks. 

    In a more general sense, deformable surfaces developed within this project could also be beneficial for the industrial sector in applications such as molding. Other possible applications include those in the optics field (deformable mirrors), in robotics (complex manipulation) and in the field of simulations, such as terrain simulation for example.

    The scientific partners in this project include the Robotics Laboratory, the Computer Vision and Systems Laboratory (CVSL) and the Centre d'Optique Photonique et Laser (COPL), which are all part of the Faculty of Sciences and Engineering at Laval University. The artistic collaborators include the company Ex Machina, the artistic center Avatar, member of the Méduse union, and the theatre research workshop at Laval University. 

    Selected Photos

    Several photos and illustrations of the dynamically reconfigurable stage are provided below. The images can be enlarged by clicking directly on the photos.


    Video Clips

    The following video segments and animations illustrate the possibilities of a mobile stage.