Opera

IU Opera Akhnaten

Indiana University’s outstanding Opera department teamed up with the Indianapolis Opera to produce Philip Glass’ masterpiece “Akhnaten”, a first in many ways for opera in the midwest. It was the first time the collegiate program has staged a Glass opera, it was the first time a Glass opera has been seen in Indianapolis, and it was the first time I got to lay my hands on the venerable Barco FLM 22+. There’s an excellent article over at NUVO- worth a read…but I’ll focus mainly on the projection. I’m a huge Philip Glass fan (occasionally OD’ing on the Qatsi trilogy is a fave pastime) so I was stoked when I learned I would be the tip-of-the-spear for an actual production in the 30th anniversary year of the seminal work. For the last week I’ve been hunkered down at PFHQ breathing 98 degree air- sitting behind two of these behemoth DLP projectors. The rig was originally designed to have both projectors doing different things, but with the shot from our venue slightly (!) different than the original presenting venue, we decided to converge and let ‘em rip.


I know, you’ll all want to see gorgeous panoramic displays of the actual imagery, but all I had time for was the down-and-dirty tech porn. Sorry- you’ll just have to find it on Youtube. Playback was achieved with HogPC software on a laptop feeding Artnet to the PJ’s and to another machine (a beefy Dell Precision) running Arkaos MediaMaster Pro. Mike Schwandt was kind enough to cue the show with a Hog Playback wing, so the run was super easy and quite accurate. We shot about 120′ onto a tight-weave white scrim for an image roughly 50′w x 32′h. There were a few unique shapes…one was the scrim flown out to a trim of about 8′h x full width for a scrolling Book of the Dead. Another was an open, unfocused nebula during a Firefly effect that was quite pretty. All in all it was a piece of cake and the IU Opera was great to work with. Hope to do it again someday!

Stay tuned in May when the IO presents The Flying Dutchman, heavy on the projection!

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Projections of the Imagination in Wagner’s Flying Dutchman

A powerful new production of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman by English National Opera (ENO) has opened in London with projection design by Nina Dunn of creative agency Knifedge.

Running at The Coliseum until 23 May 2012, ENO’s new production of Wagner’s early opera is directed by Jonathan Kent and designed by Paul Brown.

Knifedge’s video projections play an important narrative role throughout the production, revealing the tale of the The Dutchman to be a recurring figment of the main character’s imagination.

In a dramatic overture, the audience sees a child in bed at the heart of a dark and wild storm, surrounded by the crashing waves of the storybook she clutches. This sets up the director’s concept of the progression from a child’s reality through a woman’s fantasy to a final obsession.


In creating her projections, Dunn worked closely with lighting designer Mark Henderson to achieve the right balance of intensity, colour and mood.

From a technical perspective, the kit consisted of 6 Panasonic projectors, 12 on-stage video monitors, 3 Catalyst Media servers and a Hog lighting desk.

Nina Dunn, Video & Projection Designer at Knifedge, comments: “One of the challenges I faced was keeping pace with the Orchestra. With the complicated content sequences, it’s all about hitting certain cue points so that music and imagery are symbiotic. But such was the energy that Conductor Ed Gardner invested into the music for this production, I had to rework several of my original sequences to keep pace.”

Knifedge is one of the UK’s leading projection design companies, serving corporate, broadcast, sports, music and charity markets as well as the arts. Other recent theatrical productions have included The Phantom of the Opera Tour, Pippin, AIDA, Backbeat, Emperor & Galilean and Cleopatra.

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