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Animation and Opera - Why Low Budget Composers choose Machinima Animation


Animation and Opera - Why Low Budget Composers choose Machinima Animation

With the global depression, art budget cuts, and innovations in technology, contemporary composers have embraced new ways of presenting opera using digital media in the last twenty years. Digital art projects like The Creator’s Project (http://www.thecreatorsproject.com/) encourage and promote modern projects like virtual operas, digital art, gaming‐inspired art, and multimedia design projects. From the Chicago Opera Cabal ensemble to William Antoniou’s Turing Opera and Alice Shield’s Apocalypse, composers have combined the theatrical spectacle of opera with the unlimited innovation of technology.


Choosing to create an animated opera over a traditional live opera has several advantages, including working with a diverse range of artists worldwide, low production cost, unlimited stage possibilities, and easy distribution. An animated opera allows the composer to collaborate with numerous musicians and artists worldwide. Initially artists offered their help from Australia, Argentina, and the United Kingdom, but in the end the primary cast and crew lived in the United States. Because this opera is not dependent on a single location, overall production costs are minimal when compared to hosting a large‐scale opera, and crew members work on the opera from home.


Animation allows for as big or as little production as possible with a few clicks of the mouse. Because Libertaria is a futuristic sci‐fi opera, animation allows for unlimited imaginative characters and props, like reverse‐aging geneticists, that would be hard to replicate in a low budget opera production. Talented animator Lucinda McNary created visual effects in Libertaria like flying futuristic aircraft, the massive explosion of the Factory, the destruction of New York City, and hundreds of soldiers fighting in the Underground. For this project, the animators use the program Moviestorm in conjunction with Bryce, Photoshop, iClone, Final Cut, Flash, and Maya. The composer chose Moviestorm, a program that uses video‐game style animation to direct virtual characters in a computer‐generated environment, for its ease of use, low cost, and ability to quickly lip‐sync. As the production evolved, Moviestorm’s comic book effects helped develop a cohesive overall graphic novel cinematic style of strong lines, comic script subtitles, and a dark color palette.
While this production has taken as long as any opera or film production, the end result will be available in a single file or DVD. Because future performances only involve screening a video, the opera can have hundreds of performances worldwide and online for a minimal cost. The interdisciplinary nature of the opera will help it travel film, music, machinima, and animation festivals, as well as have select online screenings. Libertaria: The Virtual Opera moves beyond the concert hall and opens up opera to a wider audience. 

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