Using Technology to Create the Virtual Opera Libertaria

Using Technology to Create the Virtual Opera Libertaria

Creating a full‐length opera in the 21st century requires a composer’s ingenuity and ability to think outside the box and into cyberspace. What do crowdsourcing, machinima, virtual auditions, social networking, and a libretto have in common? Each is a key element in the production of Libertaria: The Virtual Opera, a feature‐ length sci‐fi animated opera created through online collaboration and cutting edge technology.
For those who live outside the 21st century digital world, terms like crowdsourcing, virtual, and machinima may seem like a foreign language out of a Ray Bradbury sci‐fi novel. Crowdsourcing involves assigning tasks for your project to the public at‐large. More than simply outsourced, a project that is crowdsourced can involve dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people contributing a small part to the creative whole. Typically one person acts as the “brain” of the project, consolidating the many parts into a cohesive project. Projects like Vox Novus 60x60 and Free Will: Opera by You are two music projects that use crowdsourcing ideas. The author’s recent article for New Music Box “The Compositional Collective: Crowdsourcing and Collaboration in the Digital Age” delves into more specific examples of crowdsourcing in composition.
Libertaria is a virtual opera, or an opera that exists outside the physical realm. How is Libertaria virtual? Libertaria: The Virtual Opera has a real cast conduct virtual rehearsals for avatars that perform the opera to a synthesized score on a virtual stage created in a 3D environment using the virtual animation style known as machinima. The machinima style of animation originated with video game “fan” movies. Gamers manipulated and recorded characters in Quake or Halo to create movies with storylines. Today “machinima” means any type of animation that involves directing virtual actors in a computer‐generated 3D environment and is not limited to video games. The choice to use machinima and animation stemmed from the ideas to emulate graphic novel‐based imagery like Marvel’s Motion Comics, to compensate for a comparatively small animation team, and to create an opera that could reach a broader audience through cyberspace. 

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