July 24, 2014

When a dark and dingy prison scene fades quickly into a sunlit desert landscape, it’s evidence of good theater. But when it takes place without stagehands, set pieces or painted backdrops, it’s innovation.

State-of-the-art digital projection transformed 13th-century Asia and entertained opera viewers during “The Red Silk Thread: An Epic Tale of Marco Polo.” It’s a trend that Stella Sung, a composer and professor in the UCF School of Visual Arts and Design, applauds.

“More opera and theater companies are using technology and virtual effects,” Sung says. “The sets are active, not static, and with the animation you can build in movements and scene changes — things that you cannot do with regular sets.”

In 2012 Sung, who serves as director of UCF’s Center for Research and Education in Arts, Technology and Entertainment (CREATE), approached local animation company Ninjaneer Studios to collaborate on the opera production. She had previously worked with the firm’s founders — Chris Brown, ’11, Heather Knott, ’11, and Joe Rosa, ’11 — when they were SVAD students.

The Ninjaneers showed her examples of 3-D projection mapping, and together they began the laborious process of designing a virtual world for her opera.

Click here to read the complete article from Pegasus magazine.