Varjo, Finnish National Opera and Ballet Debut Immersive Opera

The FNOB again partner with Varjo and Zoan for a large-scale immersive broadcast

Varjo, Finnish National Opera and Ballet Debut Immersive Opera
Virtual RealityInsights

Published: March 2, 2023


Rory Greener

In late January, extended reality (XR) hardware provider Varjo and partners The Finnish National Opera and Ballet (FNOB) debuted an immersive opera experience of acclaimed production: Turandot from classic composers Giacomo Puccini and Franco Alfano.

The esteemed European art institution premiered its Opera in person on January 27 2022, while hosting Turandot via a varjo-powered immersive environment.

Director Sofia Adrian Jupither leads the Turandot opera, which the FNOB and the Malmö Opera in Sweden helped to co-produce. The FNOB creative team worked with Varjo for roughly two years to secure an immersive at-home version of the stage classic.

The Opera will run until March 4, and the immersive version will also run until February 16. Moreover, Yle, a Finnish broadcasting company, is delivering the immersive stream in a combined effort with FNOB and Varjo to invite individuals of all backgrounds and from all areas of the world to enjoy the classic Opera.

Timo Tuovila, the Production and Technical Director of the FNOB, added:

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.

Leveraging Varjo XR Solutions

To secure an XR broadcast of its current leading Opera, the FNOB is leveraging various immersive solutions to provide a high-quality virtual reality (VR) event playback.

Project partner Zoan created a digital twin of the opera stage using Unreal engine to provide a photorealistic and a real-time 3D (RT3D) “XR stage.” Varjo provides its Aero VR headset to allow audiences to enjoy the broadcast with top-tier immersive display technology.

FNOB digital twin
A real-world and digital twin comparison PHOTO: Varjo

Saving Time and Capital with XR

Moreover, the digital twin promotes remote collaboration and communication. Zoan’s immersive environment recreated the stage, enabling the Opera’s global team to collaborate on pre-production workflows. Additionally, the digital set allowed the team to see and explore the proposed art direction and stage design before the set’s construction.

According to FNOB, the project doubling as an immersive broadcast event and VR collaboration environment allows the production staff to cut down significantly on unnecessary travel. For example, the main-stage digital twin connected Helsinki and Malmö’s stage production crew, saving time and capital while meeting environmental considerations.

Moreover, the digital twin reduces labour costs related to traditional stage design and production procedures. The project claims that XR-assisted production tools cut time constraints by 1,500 and lowered budgeted labour costs by 20 percent.

Also, the FNOB added that the Varjo partnership saved the Turandot opera production roughly €75,000.

Timo Tuovila also added:

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.

Moreover, the immersive Turandot broadcast marks the first time FNOB used immersive technology at scale from the proof-of-concept phase to final production.

In 2020, FNOB first leveraged Varjo-brand XR products on a smaller-scale project to distribute immersive visualisations of seven opera productions. The 2020 project presented remote audiences with an explorable on-set environment that partners Zoan designed.

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