Videos of the completed model

Filed under:Visualisation — posted by Hugh Denard on May 20, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

Here are video clips of the completed model.
Balcony View

Aerial View

Crane Shot


Stage View


Green – modelled from reliable information, photographs, plans etc.
Amber – informed conjecture, for example we presume the lighting on the west wall is similar to the east wall.
Red – pure conjecture / artist’s impression

The completed model

Filed under:Visualisation — posted by Hugh Denard on April 17, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

Here are images of the digital model, by Hugh Denard (research) and Niall Ó hOisín / Noho (modelling), showing the old Abbey Theatre as it appeared on 27th December 1904.

View from Balcony of Abbey Theatre, 1904. Digital model by Hugh Denard (research) and Niall Ó hOisín/Noho (modelling), 2011.

View from the Balcony of the Abbey Theatre, 1904

We know that the theatre was painted, in 1904, by Marks Bros, Painting Contractors and Decorators of 13 South Anne Street, Dublin, and had carpets supplied by Millar & Beatty Ltd, Artistic House Furnishers of 14 Grafton Street and 56 Dawson Street. However, we haven’t yet been able definitively to discover the original colour-schemes used. For that reason we’ve chosen to render these images in the style of black-and-white photographs.

In the Balcony area, you can see the door through which patrons entered and, beside it, the circular copper-framed mirror from Youghal, which survived the fire of 1951 and is still in use in the Foyer of the new Abbey Theatre.

View from Pit of old Abbey Theatre, 1904. Digital model created by Hugh Denard (research) and Niall Ó hOisín/Noho (modelling), 2011.

View from the ‘Pit’ of the Abbey Theatre, 1904

The theatre was refurbished to the designs of Joseph Holloway, friend of the Abbey Theatre Company, architect and diarist. Holloway used the existing structure of the auditorium and balcony, but he completely remoulded the proscenium arch, created a new entrance on Marlborough Street, introduced a substantially different seating arrangement, and changed every aspect of the décor, fixtures and fittings. The building work was carried out by R. & E. Farmer, Builders and Contractors of 22 Nottingham Street, North Strand

View of auditorium of Abbey Theatre, 1904. Digital model by Hugh Denard (research) and Niall Ó hOisín/Noho (modelling), 2011.

The auditorium of the Abbey Theatre, 1904

Patrons with seats in the Stalls – the most expensive seats – entered the theatre through the new Vestibule on Marlborough Street (where the entrance to the modern Abbey is situated today), and proceeded from there, down a steep staircase, to the double-doors seen to the left of the above image. The single door slightly to their right was the entrance to the ladies’ lavatory. Those seated in the Balcony – the next most costly tickets – also entered through the new Vestibule.

View of auditorium of Abbey Theatre, 1904. Digital model by Hugh Denard (research) and Niall Ó hOisín/Noho (modelling), 2011.

Aerial view of the auditorium of the Abbey Theatre, 1904

The programme for the opening night of the old Abbey Theatre, on 27 December 1904, records: “The Upholstering and Seating of this theatre has been done by James Hill, 10, 11 & 12 Bachelor’s Walk.” The image above shows the difference between the upholstered, tip-up seats in the ‘Stalls’ at the front of the auditorium, and the long wooden benches behind them (and separated from them by a metal railing), in the so-called ‘Pit’. Above them, audience-members in the Balcony were also seated on wooden benches, but with each seat individually demarcated by thin metal armrests.

View towards Balcony of Abbey Theatre, 1904. Digital model by Hugh Denard (research) and Niall Ó hOisín/Noho (modelling), 2011.

View towards the Balcony of the Abbey Theatre, 1904

After the performance, the Balcony audience exited, not through the Marlborough Street Vestibule through which they had entered, but through two double-doors to the rear of the Balcony onto Lower Abbey Street. The theatre was lit by electrical lighting, installed in 1904 by T. J. Sheehan, Electrical Engineer & Contractor of 68 Dame Street.

View from stage of Abbey Theatre, 1904. Digital model by Hugh Denard (research) and Niall Ó hOisín/Noho (modelling), 2011.

View from the stage of the Abbey Theatre, 1904

J. & C. McGloughlin, Ltd, Dublin, Art Metal Workers and Constructional Engineers, were responsible for the fireproof curtain, as well as the elegant external cast-iron and glass porch for the Vestibule on Marlborough Street and for the considerably plainer version, to Holloway’s design, for the ‘Pit’ entrance on Lower Abbey Street.

A Final Note
This model, which was officially launched by Trinity’s Provost, Dr John Hegarty, on 15th April 2011, could not have been produced without the generosity and imagination of numerous sponsors and supporters, to whom we are deeply indebted. As a result, we feel that the model truly ‘belongs’ to all who have supported its creation, as well as everyone who remembers or cares about the old Abbey Theatre.

For that reason, we invite everyone freely to distribute, reproduce and use these images, without fee or permission, asking only that, where possible, Hugh Denard and Noho be acknowledged as having created them. Print-quality versions are available by clicking on the above images, or you can download this PowerPoint presentation (Format: MS PowerPoint 1997-2003 (.ppt); File-size: 6.42 MB).

We would also love to hear from you if you’re using or re-publishing these images. In addition to the very considerable pleasure of seeing others enjoy the model, evidence of its value and interest to a wider audience will also help us to find support for research on other areas, and phases, of the theatre.

Day 4 of Modelling

Filed under:Visualisation — posted by Hugh Denard on April 12, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

Niall has created a new video showing the model of the theatre growing ever closer to completion.

The completed model will be seen for the first time at the project launch on 15th April at the Samuel Beckett Theatre.

Day 3 of Modelling

Filed under:Visualisation — posted by Hugh Denard on March 27, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

Here’s Niall’s latest video, showing results from Day 3 of his modelling of the Old Abbey Theatre.

Day 2 of Modelling

Filed under:Visualisation — posted by Hugh Denard on March 2, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

Hello Everyone,

Below is the second installment of my video diary of how I am progressing with the model. Once again, please excuse my monotonous droning as I try to describe what decisions I am making, based on what sources. The next one, I promise you, will have rendered material. It is a little hard to figure out from my wireframe what is taking place.

In the next installment I will begin to group models according to historical information.



Day 1 of 3D Modelling – Images

Filed under:Visualisation — posted by Hugh Denard on February 24, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

Some images taken by Niall during his first day modelling the old Abbey Theatre.

Wire-frame view of the auditorium and stage

Old Abbey Theatre: wire-frame view of the auditorium and stage. © 2011

Massing model view towards stage from 'Pit' below Gallery

Old Abbey Theatre: massing model view towards stage from ‘Pit’ below Gallery. © 2011

Massing model view from stage

Old Abbey Theatre: massing model view from stage. © 2011

Day 1 of 3D Modelling

Filed under:Visualisation — posted by Hugh Denard on February 16, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

Hello Everyone,

I am the 3D Modeller on this project and the video below is a rambling account of what I am using as reference and how I am getting on with the work so far. This is only after a day’s work, so don’t get too excited, but I think it is shaping up nicely. We are only focusing on the main blocking of the model at the moment.

Abbey Theatre Reconstruction – Day 01 from Noho on Vimeo.

It’s great to have such good reference material to hand without having to look for it myself, so thanks to Hugh for making my job pretty easy. The next day of work shall focus on more blocking out of walls and doors and stairs. I will also start to try and colour code the models according to sources.

More soon,


The moment of truth…

Filed under:Visualisation — posted by Hugh Denard on February 7, 2011 @ 6:31 pm

All the archival research, discussions and journeys have been leading up to this: the modelling of the Theatre.

I met up with Niall Ó hOisín again this morning at the now, newly-refurbished, NOHO offices (nice job!). I’m particularly lucky it’s going to be Niall himself, the founder of NOHO (did the name give it away?), who’s going to work on the project. I have to say, it’s fantastic to find someone to collaborate with who is every bit as crazy about the Old Abbey Theatre project as I am!

We ran through the scope, methodology and schedule of the project, before getting down to the nuts and bolts of reviewing and interpreting the sources for the 1904 theatre, which are several, and complicated.

Let me outline the plan here, and I’ll blog the discussion of sources separately.

We’ve only a short time-span and limited funds for the project (this phase of it, at least), and my primary focus is on what avenues of theatre-historical exploration we can open up by modelling and exploring performance and spectatorship in the Old Abbey Theatre, so we’re going to concentrate on the Auditorium and Stage only of the Theatre, trying to model it as closely as possible to its state on its opening night, 27th December 1904.

Keeping in mind, as always, the London Charter‘s precepts on documentation, Niall will create three versions of the model:

  1. Forensic Massing Model (FMM): this model will be a reconstruction of the architecture, but not surface textures, of the auditorium and stage. It will include stairs, doors, windows, seating, ceiling, fittings for lighting and heating, and the position of the paintings and other decorative features that were hung within the auditorium. Unfortunately, there will be conflicts and gaps in our information. To give just two examples: we already know that it’s proving difficult to pin down details of the original ceiling; and there’s also a troublesome window high above the left-hand gallery that appears in some sources but not in others. The FMM will therefore use a “traffic lights” system, using green, amber and red to make it easy for viewers to distinguish between “known”, “probable” and “speculative” elements in the model.
  2. Artists’ Impression (AI): again, a full architectural reconstruction, but this time also restoring as accurately as possible the surface textures of the space, from the colour of paint on the walls, to the materials and textiles used in the columns, railings, floors, seating, curtains etc. The purpose of this model is to allow us to experience as close a simulation as evidence permits of the full spatial-visual array that the Theatre presented to both actors and spectators from 27th December 1904. This version of the model will be used when, in the summer, we come to populate the theatre with animated virtual figures in an attempt to discover how far we can recreate the “Playboy” riots of 1907.
  3. Forensic Textured Model (FTM): this final version will combine the approaches used in the FMM and the AI, overlaying textures AI with semi-transparent colour shading, so that viewers will be able to see, at a glance, the levels of confidence we have in our restoration of surface information (colours, materials, textiles etc.).

We need to keep the door open for future edits or additions to the model should resources become available, and we also have to ensure that the models have a reasonable chance of surviving beyond the lifespan of the project (see the London Charter on sustainability), so NOHO is going to deliver the digital models in three industry-standard file formats:

  • XSI (the native format of Autodesk’s Softimage software, which NOHO will be using for this project)
  • 3DS (the format of files for 3d Studio Max, another industry-standard 3d modelling software package by Autodesk)
  • OBJ (an almost universally-accepted format for 3d graphics).

In addition to the three versions of the model, Niall will render still images of selected viewpoints of each of the models, which we can publish on the website and even in print, when the time comes. And, finally, he’ll export the complete AI model into the Metropolis real-time engine, so that Carol O’Sullivan’s summer-time intern can develop virtual characters for it.

There are several additional bits of visualisation we’d love to do, to help to contextualise the models and also to explore the experience of 1904 audience members, depending on whether they were bound for the Stalls, Gallery or the “cheap seats” in the Pit. That would involve modelling the entire architectural layout of the Theater: its famous Vestibule on Marlborough Street, as well as the Lower Abbey Street entrance to the Pit. And we could also learn a great deal from attempting to model the backstage areas, including the Green Room and workshop.

It would also be helpful for people more familiar with the new Abbey to superimpose models of the old and new theatres onto each other on the 1907 Ordnance Survey map of the area, which I’ll hopefully be able to acquire tomorrow afternoon when I meet Trinity Map Librarian, Paul Ferguson at the Glucksman Map Library. (Back in my – surprisingly not entirely misspent – youth, I spent one long, sweaty, student summer extracting dirty, heavy, waxed bundles of OS maps from the basement of No.6 Front Square and carting them down to the Map Library, then in the “Science end” of College, where, under Paul’s kindly, watchful eye, we straightened and sorted them. Ah, them were the days!)

However, if we do have any time to spare, we’re going to prioritise putting onto the stage some scenery and three-dimensionalised photographs of Abbey actors in costume, to give a sense of its scale, and to see how the visual style of the plays worked in the Theatre for which they were written. An obvious choice would be the 1907 Playboy of the Western World, but we’ll see what we have best evidence for.

I was going to blog about how we’re going to organize and capture the modelling process, but this entry is far too long as it is, so that’ll have to wait another day.

@ GV2

Filed under:Visualisation — posted by Hugh Denard on February 3, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

I gave an informal overview and update on the project at noon today to Carol O’Sullivan and her colleagues in the Computer Science Department at Trinity College.

I related the “digital jig-saw puzzle”, which the Old Abbey is turning out to be, to other digital visualisation projects I’ve been involved in with my colleagues in the King’s Visualisation Lab, including work on the Theatre of Pompey in Rome, the Roman villas at Boscoreale and Oplontis, and their theatrical frescoes, the London Charter, as well as the Body and Mask in Ancient Theatre Space and Theatron3 projects and the “Vanishing Point(s)” artwork for the Great Hall at King’s College London that I worked on with artist Michael Takeo Magruder.

It was a relaxed and enjoyable session, and great to hear about activities in which Trinity is involved, including research on facial perception and an exciting project extending to the Book of Kells digital analysis of various kinds (PDF).

We agreed that there continue to be areas of common interest, and as we move towards the actual creation, with NOHO, of the project’s digital model (starting next Monday, 7th Feb) it will be interesting to keep thinking about, and planning, how we might, with Carol and her colleagues, model not only performance, but also the demographics and social expectations of spectatorship in the Old Abbey Theatre.

Carol also mentioned some fascinating work (PDF), by Frank Boland (TCD) and Gavin Kearney (now University of York) on digitally modelling the acoustics of Christ Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedrals in Dublin. Perhaps this kind of work is an avenue we could explore in a future phase of the project?

Meeting NOHO

Filed under:Visualisation — posted by Hugh Denard on January 14, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

I met Niall Ó hOisín at NOHO HQ on 46 South William Street at 2.30pm. In fact, Niall had introduced himself to me back in October 2009 after a DHO and Architecture Ireland-sponsored lecture I gave, on “Recreating Research, Art and Education in Shared Virtual Worlds”, which took place simultaneously in Dublin City Council’s Wood Quay Auditorium and on Digital Humanities Island in Second Life.

I was delighted to find Breffni O’Malley there at NOHO, too. Breffni and I met at ARQUEOLÓGICA 2.0 in Seville last June, at which he showed me the amazing “Dublin City Walls” mobile application that NOHO and he (then at Silver City) produced during their Medieval Dublin project for Dublin City Council. This is a truly stunning mobile app: truly the best by far that I’ve ever seen: I hope it gets a wider audience!

Getting back to business, we talked through the “Abbey Theatre, 1904” project, and estimated that, in order to make the visualisation process as streamlined, and therefore affordable, as possible, I will need both to secure ample, good-quality research sources and to examine them in advance sufficiently carefully to be able to give NOHO detailed advice on their interpretation. Under those circumstances, NOHO ought to be able to produce a good model, concentrating on the auditorium and stage areas, in around 7 days (5 days for 3d modelling and 2 days for texturing and lighting). Niall’s team will then need a further day to prepare the model for the Metropolis real-time engine used by Trinity’s “GV2: Graphics, Vision and Visualisation Group“, led by Professor Carol O’Sullivan, so that she can guide a funded summer intern in populating the Theatre with avatars (virtual humans) simulating both actors and audiences.

We looked at some books in the NOHO “reference collection” (which were glad to be temporarily liberated from the reach of all the renovation dust upstairs) and Niall pointed me in the direction of the Irish Architectural Archive and its on-line Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720-1940. He also promised to send out a query to a couple of contacts, including the Heritage Officer for Dublin City Council, Charles Duggan, who might have, or know about, further resources.

Niall has, as a personal project, modelled the streetscapes of much of the contemporary Dublin city centre, using the animation frames slider in his modelling software as a timeline (one year per frame) to correlate the location of past and present structures. It’s beautiful work! Perhaps we could, in time, extend this work to the Abbey Street and Molesworth Street section of Dublin from, say, 1903 (immediately pre-Abbey) to late July 1951 (immediately following the fire of 17th July).

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace