Dragon Quest is one of the best selling videogame franchises of all time. In honor of the thirtieth anniversary of the popular Japanese role-playing videogame, Nippon Television Network Corporation (Nippon TV), representing a partnership with the Dragon Quest Live Spectacle Tour committee, brought the world of the game to life in the Dragon Quest Live Spectacle Tour.
During the summer of 2016, the arena show visited five cities throughout Japan, attracting approximately 300,000 people to forty performances. Kahori Kanaya, an accomplished director for themed entertainment, directed the show. Stufish Entertainment Architects designed the sets; Tadashi Matsumura designed the lighting; and BARTKRESA studio designed the projections.
Dragon Quest popularized the role-playing videogame genre in Japan. In the game, players choose and name an avatar to represent themselves on a journey. Nippon TV knew that audience interaction and immersive storytelling would be integral to realizing the true spirit of the game. For example, each audience member wore an illuminated interactive wristband. This allowed audience members to vote on the weapons that the live actors used to fight monsters throughout the show. During the ultimate battle, the individual light-up wearables transformed the audience into a collective entity that bolstered the five heroes to victory. The show narrative and design were structured to put the audience in the role of the sixth warrior.
The innovative set design and projection mapping completed the illusion that the audience had transcended the game screen to enter the world of Dragon Quest. Nippon TV and Kahori Kanaya emphasized projection mapping in the design concept. Stufish’s set utilized fifty-two individually controlled roll-drop scrims as projection surfaces. BARTKRESA studio mapped all of the screens with animated 3D projections, creating content for the entirety of the two hour-long show. The projected images transitioned with the moving screens, and incorporated digital effects to enhance the live choreography. The overall effect gave a dynamic digital landscape. Sixteen 30k, and sixteen 20k Christie projectors achieved the saturated look for which BARTKRESA studio is known. In the same way that players assume a role in the videogame, the projections filled the arena to envelope the guests in a live-action Dragon Quest realm.
Over the past thirty years, the aesthetic of the Dragon Quest videogame has grown with technology, from 8-bit imagery into modern 3D animation. The producers and director challenged BARTKRESA studio to create another link in the visual maturation of the IP. Kresa’s studio includes artists, developers, and technologists at their headquarters in Santa Monica, CA, as well as in Poland and Japan. This international collaboration gave them a global understanding of a unique property like Dragon Quest. They adopted a painterly style that referenced the icons of the Dragon Quest world, and emphasized magic and fantasy. The end result blended 2D and 3D animation, and even 8-bit imagery. Special effects were programmed in real time to support the on-stage battles, and to allow the actors to interact with the set. BARTKRESA studio created projections that represented the visual past, present, and future of Dragon Quest.
The Dragon Quest Live Spectacle Tour is the first original content arena tour of its kind in Japan. BARTKRESA studio’s projections not only brought the digital scenery of the videogame to life, but also merged light, story, and design to craft an unparalleled live experience. The collaboration among the producing, directing, and design teams created a unique production that has raised the bar for live entertainment in Japan.