Varjo, Finnish National Opera and Ballet debut Immersive Opera

In late January, Extended Reality (XR) hardware provider Varjo and its partners The Finnish National Opera and Ballet (FNOB) unveiled an immersive operatic experience in an acclaimed production: Turandot by classical composers Giacomo Puccini and Franco Alfano.

The esteemed European arts institution premiered its opera in person on January 27, 2022 while hosting Turandot in an immersive setting with Varjo support.

Director Sofia Adrian Jupiter directs the Turandot Opera, co-produced by FNOB and Malmö Opera in Sweden. The FNOB creative team worked with Varjo for approximately two years to secure an immersive home version of the stage classic.

The opera will run through March 4th, and the immersive version will also run through February 16th. Additionally, Yle, a Finnish broadcasting company, is delivering the immersive stream in collaboration with FNOB and Varjo to invite people of all backgrounds and from all regions of the world to enjoy the classical opera.

Timo Tuovila, FNOB’s Production and Technical Director added:

After 20 years of modeling lights, our technical team realized we needed a more efficient solution to deliver faster and better quality results to our artistic teams. Our artists were only open to using virtual tools when the models were photorealistic and an intuitive user experience.

Use of Varjo XR solutions

To secure an XR broadcast of its current leading Opera, the FNOB utilizes various immersive solutions to provide high-quality rendition of virtual reality (VR) events.

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

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Comparison between real and digital twin PHOTO: Varjo

Save time and capital with XR

In addition, the digital twin encourages remote collaboration and communication. Zoan’s immersive environment recreated the stage and allowed the opera’s global team to collaborate on pre-production workflows. Additionally, the digital set allowed the team to view and explore the proposed artistic direction and set design prior to building the set.

According to FNOB, the project, which doubles as an immersive broadcast event and VR collaboration environment, will allow production staff to significantly reduce unnecessary travel. For example, the digital twin of the main stage connected the stage production teams from Helsinki and Malmö, saving time and capital while meeting environmental concerns.

In addition, the digital twin reduces labor costs associated with traditional set design and production processes. The project claims XR-powered production tools reduce time constraints by 1,500 and cut budgeted labor costs by 20 percent.

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

Timo Tuovila added:

Varjo’s VR/XR technology enables just that. We have managed to create a true-to-life digital twin of our stage that meets the expectations of our ambitious artistic and technical teams.

In addition, the immersive Turandot broadcast is the first time FNOB has used immersive technology at scale from the proof-of-concept stage to final production.

In 2020, FNOB used Varjo branded XR products for the first time on a smaller project to disseminate immersive visualizations of seven opera productions. Project 2020 presented distant viewers with an explorable on-set environment designed by partners Zoan.

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