MDM alumnus to develop cutting-edge video projection software for UBC theatre project

MDM alumnus to develop cutting-edge video projection software for UBC theatre project

Masters of Digital Media program graduate Dhruv Adhia is bringing his computer programming expertise to the world of live theatre.

Recently contracted as a programmer for UBC’s Digital Video Illumination (DVI) project, Adhia is excited to begin development of a new software system and interface that will allow users to better control multiple video projections during live performances. The system will make it easy even for non-technical users to sync up to 10 projectors for the illumination of performers and to create dynamic stage backgrounds.

Originally from India, Adhia studied electronics and communication engineering as an undergrad – at one time becoming one of the youngest electronics researchers at India’s Central Power Research Institute. He entered the MDM program in 2008, graduated in 2010, and later joined MDM startup D-Sign Touchless Interactive Systems.

With the current project, Adhia will work with UBC Scenography Professor Robert Gardiner. Gardiner, who has had significant involvement with Great Northern Way Campus over the years, initiated the project in 2008 with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Its purpose is to develop an alternative method of stage lighting for live performances that uses video projectors and control software instead of conventional stage lights. Having used some of the SSHRC funding in theatre productions where video projectors have replaced stage lights, Gardiner clearly recognizes a need for better projection software.

“These [productions] have been very challenging because existing projector control software is not designed for using video projectors as lights, and is also very difficult to use in theatre situations,” said Gardiner. "Dhruv's expertise as a programmer will be invaluable [for this project] … we confidently expect to have a powerful and flexible software tool that will control video content for multiple projectors in a new and user-friendly way.”

Adhia’s work will also provide the basic framework for future interactive add-ons that use sensors or camera inputs, as well as expansion for larger projector arrays and multiple control computers. Adhia will consult with MDM adjunct faculty member and SIAT Professor Dr. Magy Seif El-Nasr on adapting the software to other applications. The new software will be tested in workshop and production environments at UBC’s Frederic Wood Theatre and other venues.

“The applications of this project are quiet wide open,” said Adhia. “Apart from theatres I can also think of huge installations for which it has good use. Especially when it will have added element of interactivity with various sensors and cameras later on."