SFOpera - Jun Kaneko's Colorful World

Jun Kaneko's Colorful World

The use of video projections to complement traditional scenery and backdrops is by now a familiar sight to most operagoers. Perhaps no production mounted at the War Memorial Opera House depends as heavily on this technology as Jun Kaneko’s whimsical interpretation of The Magic Flute, returning to our stage this fall. Kaneko's production, which premiered in San Francisco in 2012, forgoes a physical set almost entirely in favor of vivid animation sequences projected onto screens at the rear and sides of the stage.

At the business end of the video system are eight 20,000 watt projectors placed in several locations around the house: two tower-mounted rear projectors backstage, two on the balcony rail, and two on either side of the auditorium in the box booms and organ bay. The projectors are arrayed through a single media server which stores and cues the video sequences and automatically adjusts the intensity from each projector to create a consistent, seamless image across the stage.

Kaneko spent the first several months of the design phase creating over 3,000 storyboard images before working with his projection team to turn these sketches into animation. In order to fill multiple screens with images throughout the entire 160-minute opera, the team created almost 12 hours of video split into over 150 cues.

As we excitedly await the return of this distinctive production, take a look through some of Jun’s original artwork, scale models from the development stage of the project, and finally production photos from our 2012 production.

(Sketches courtesy Jun Kaneko; scale model photographs courtesy Takashi Hatakeyama and Jun Kaneko Studio; production photos: Cory Weaver)

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