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Augmented Reality Scenery at Metropolitan Opera’s Faust

The Metropolitan Opera will be using copious amounts of technological wizardry to create scenery illusions on a grand scale in“Damnation de Faust”...

Dan Gould
Dan Gould on November 7, 2008.

The Metropolitan Opera will be using copious amounts of technological wizardry to create scenery illusions on a grand scale in“Damnation de Faust”, which opens this Friday. Faust will be the Met’s first interactive opera, where performer’s motions and sounds will trigger and change video projections on stage. The spectacles being i orchestrated by talented Cirque du Soleil director Robert Lepage.

The New York Times reports:

The basic production is the same: the set consists of a five-level metal scaffold with catwalks. Five vertical trusses divide the scaffold into 24 panels. Screens unfurl across each panel to create a larger canvas when needed. Projections are cast onto the front and also onto a rear surface at the back of the scaffold.

What is different is the interactivity. Microphones (not the broadcasting kind) which are attached to the singers and positioned over the orchestra gauge volume and pitch. A system of infrared lights and cameras detect motion; similar technology is used to catch people trying to cross the United States border with Mexico, Mr. Lepage said.

A flock of digitally created birds swirls during Faust’s opening aria. As Mr. Giordani’s pitch changes, the birds change directions. As the volume surges, they swoop. When soldiers, supported by cables, march perpendicularly up the scaffolding on a projection of grass, the blades waver and part.

New York Times: “Techno-Alchemy at the Opera”

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Dan is an information omnivore, autodidact and creative generalist who has written for publications including the Huffington Post, Jaunted, PSFK.com and Time/CNN. Dan has also provided commentary on trends for media outlets such as Wired and Parade magazine.

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