A Robot, an Astronaut & Peacock Walk into a Bar…
No really! Following the success of 3 sell-out arena shows in 2017, ESA astronaut André Kuipers is back for 3 arena shows of SpaceXperience Live 2018, a Media Lane Production. In trying to improve his already impressive show we assume André was thinking “…what’s cooler than an astronaut host?”. The obvious conclusion is “an astronaut and an awesome robot!”. So naturally, it was decided that RoboThespian would be the co-star of this super futuristic show.
RT Meets André Kuipers for the First Time
At the time of publishing, André’s show hasn’t been performed. But the pre-show marketing is in full swing. A few weeks ago, RoboThespian joined André on the set of Dutch TV show Pauw. (Pauw is Dutch for ‘Peacock’, hence the title). Being a busy news day, including the arrest of a terrorist cell in the Nederlands, things were delayed slightly, but this did not deter our intrepid robot.
The show was broadcast at 23:00, which was handy, because RoboThespian and his two engineers were pulling double duty. It was the last day at IAAPA’s Euro Attractions Show. Where Engineered Arts were showing RoboThespian off on his new track system.
So, after RoboThespian had spent 3 solid days at EAS, he had to make his way to the studio, in different part of Amsterdam. Here he met his co-star André, and the TV crew. The format of the show, is an hour long chat around a large table with multiple speakers around it, engaged in conversation around various topics. Although the show has elements of script, due to the nature of the show, and the fact it broadcasts live, using the robot with only pre-programmed content, would not be suitable.
“If I only had a heart…”
The situation was perfect for our Telepresence software TinMan . Our technicians are both English, and know very little Dutch, meaning we needed a Dutch speaking TinMan operator. Enter Sander. Netherlands native, but zero experience with robotics. Sander was trained at the studio on the evening, and quickly picked up the intuitive software in no time. All Sander needed was a computer, headset & internet connection.
When it comes to audio, RoboThespian has a few options. In a setting where people aren’t wearing microphones, RT uses beam-forming microphones to pick audio around him. This helps to filter out unwanted noise. These are quite directional, so work very well when pointing to a subject, but can sometimes filter audio coming from the side, a problem in this format. So we took advantage of the XLR input, and took a direct feed from the broadcast’s mixer. This meant the operator, could hear the audio as the viewers would hear it (very clean and easy to understand). A combination of this and intuitive software interface meant Sander was able to operate the robot seamlessly with very little training.
And as you can see, the broadcast went very well, with no hiccups and RoboThespian and André Kuipers blending in perfectly to the surroundings. Watch the show from 29 minutes to see RT in action! With one of the 3 shows already sold out, if you want tickets, best order them soon!