He updated the traditional performance act, turning it into an international phenomenon. Now, like other brands of retail and business, they want to make extensive use of technology and data to make more informed decisions about product delivery and engage their audience better.
Cirque du Soleil has spent the past three decades turning a small show in Quebec countryside into a show of 40 productions in 60 countries, attracting 11 million spectators a year. It is supported by 1350 artists and currently runs 22 exhibitions worldwide, including live performances and tours, such as the KURIOS production, which will start for one month in Singapore next month.
While it belongs to a high-profile industry with few competitors, Cirque du Soleil faces the same challenges as other retail brands and has significantly expanded service delivery and customer base.
Mark Gagnon, director of innovation and corporate engineering at Cirque du Soleil, said that after turning into a large company that relies heavily on its talent, it may be difficult to ensure consistent performance. He pointed out that sometimes there were some variables in the lineup because the artists may need to be replaced or that the number of artists in some of the plays will need to reduce in some presentations.
To maintain the display quality over the lifetime of its production, so the audience experience is consistent, Gagnon said it is important to be able to measure the reaction of the spectators. In an interview with DTCDaily it is very important to check the level of display difficulty and how easy it will be to replace the performer.
Cirque du Soleil then turned to cameras and motion tracking, so that he could monitor the performers and compare the quality of the plays. He said that the insights from the data generated from this had been translated into better training for performers, reducing injuries and improving the experience of their staff.
The company works with German technology vendor SAP to deploy the majority of its IT endeavors, ranging from finance, procurement, supply chain manufacturing and performance demonstration.
Klaus Andresen, SAP's head of Southeast Asia and managing director, said that she also worked with a Munich football team to capture the moves of her players. The goal here was to determine when players might be affected, how they moved on the pitch, what trainers could use to improve training, and how training could be designed for each player.
"This ensures that the players receive care to meet their personal needs and thus helps reduce the likelihood of injuries," Andersen said, adding that this would eventually improve the team's performance and translate into a better enjoyment for its fans.
SAP also helps Cirque du Soleil experiment with the use of cameras in the arena to capture and analyze real-time audience responses while viewing performance.
Just like the retail brands that monitor traffic patterns and browse the store to improve store planning and customer experience, the performing arts company has turned its audience into a visual study to determine the quality and attractiveness of its product.
"For years, we used surveys and the response rate was not only low, but we could only capture what they were testing and measure their response at the end of the show," Gagnon said.
He explained that the emotions of onlookers can be captured and evaluated throughout the show. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and data analysis, he said the company aims to use these ideas to improve future offerings or modify certain segments of performance.
"We are implementing a typical real-time face response to our offers as they occur, and the surveys will never tell you that." Also, we have data analysis scientists based on geographic locations [as] we believe [audience behaviour] Can vary from Asia to Europe, for example. "
It's classic [need] To better understand our audience so that we can do marketing more accurately, and we hope the conversion rate is better. We want to make data-based decisions. "
Gagnon said there were still some problems to be addressed, such as capturing facial emotions while theater lights focused on performers – rather than the public – as well as studying the possible bias of artificial intelligence platforms.
Cirque du Soleil also used motion tracking technology to improve its fashion by mapping "near-real-time" projection maps, where physical and virtual objects are combined in 16 milliseconds. He said that these images can be displayed directly on the human body, and thus can change the costume of the performer and use as a cloth to express.
This photo mapping application is similar to how some retail brands are transformed into enhanced reality and virtual reality to enable shoppers online to measure how a piece of jewelry might look.
Gagnon stressed the need for technology, when applied, to be smooth and non-interventionist for both performers and the public.
"Many cases of use are related to the rapid use and capture of data and the simulation of potential outcomes," Andreasen said, "by creating opportunities to engage with a customer and helping our customers bring technology together for a benefit."