FNOB (Finnish National Opera and Ballet) is the first opera house in the world to use immersive technology throughout the entire production process of its latest opera performance – Puccini’s “Turandot”.
Varjo at the Opera
Varjo’s immersive technology made this possible. With headquarters in Helsinki, Finland. Varjo is a leading developer of VR (virtual reality) and XR (extended reality) hardware and software.
Two years in the making, these performances deployed large-scale, behind-the-scenes Varjo immersive technology. Deployment of this technology started from the proof-of-concept phase, right through to the final stage production.
Matching the expectations of artistic and technical teams
Varjo immersive technology provided a true-to-life experience for artistic and technical teams. The virtual models were visually realistic in size and appearance, effectively creating digital twins of the real stage sets. This allowed the teams to collaborate seamlessly, and experience a creative vision as if team members were together on stage in person. FNOB production and technical director, Timo Tuovila explains:
“After 20 years of modeling lights, our technical team recognized that we needed a more efficient solution to provide our artistic teams with faster and better quality results. Our artists were only open to using virtual tools if models would be photorealistic and it was an intuitive user experience. Varjo’s VR/XR technology enables just that. We have been able to create a digital twin of our stage that actually is true to life, matching the expectations of our ambitious artistic and technical teams.”
Significant cost benefits
Virtual collaboration using Varjo immersive technology significantly reduced travel time. Stage production teams saved at least three international work trips between Helsinki and Malmö in Sweden. This one factor alone resulted in significant environmental and financial benefits.
XR stage production significantly reduced material and labor costs, compared to traditional stage design and production methods. XR tools eliminated roughly 20% of the budgeted labor costs. This was mostly due to the early knowledge the production teams acquired by using immersive models for creating the sets.
Varjo immersive technology significantly enhanced workplace safety for the creative team because members could practice safety procedures in VR. Team leaders could visualize the stage and practice movements and exits in the immersive environment earlier on in the production, without needing the expensive real-stage time with 20-30 people operating the stage.
Cost savings due to the XR stage tool in this production amounted to approximately EUR 75,000. It also cut an estimated 1,500 hours of preparation time from this production.
Seven set productions have already been visualized in VR, with more to come
The FNOB has been pioneering the use of XR since 2020. It has successfully visualized seven set productions with the help of Varjo immersive technology. In the near future, the organization plans to incorporate Varjo headsets across all its production teams.
More information & watching the Opera
For more information regarding how Varjo immersive technology is deployed in stage productions, please click here.
Meanwhile, twelve performances of Turandot at the Finnish National Opera are scheduled between 27 January 2023 and 4 March 2023. The show can also be watched on-demand, internationally until 23 August 2023, via the OperaVision service.
The opera itself is quite spectacular. Whilst it is sung in Italian, most of the introduction and all the subtitles are in English. Opera fans can click here to watch it for free. However, you will need to set aside almost three hours to enjoy the performance in its entirety.