‘The Barber of Seville’ to Feature Rear-Projected Animated Backgrounds

MIAMI (Feb. 9, 2010) — Miami-based Lava Studio has collaborated with director/designer team Renaud Doucet and André Barbe on Florida Grand Opera’s production of “The Barber of Seville” to create innovative animated sets for its Feb. 20–March 6 run in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. It is the first time rear-projection animation has been used in a Florida performance and it is the most extensive set animation ever employed in a U.S. opera production.

Better known for its work in advertising, television and feature films, this is Lava Studio’s first venture into long-form, theatrical animation, according to Senior Art Director David Woodward. The whimsical animations, which were created over a four-month period, are projected on a 22-foot-high by 40-foot-wide screen and are cued live to keep pace with the live musical performance.

“We were encouraged to have fun and take risks, and in our collaboration with André and Renaud we found inspiration in everything from Alfred Hitchcock to Monty Python and Bugs Bunny,” said President and Design Director Robert Kirkpatrick. “We wanted to create animation that would complement the live performances and would feel more like stagecraft than computer graphics.”

The animated sets are based on black-and-white silhouette drawings by costume and set designer Barbe that were in turn based on the silhouette paper cuttings popular in 18th-century Europe. Layers of animations enliven the minimalist sets and provide richness of color and texture as well as perspective. Some startling and comic effects such as dramatic storms, portraits that come to life and a cascading shower of musical notes are an integral part of the opera.

“We’re doing theater and our job is to put a frame around a work of art; ‘Barber’ is a comedy and we wanted to do something funny and light, but we also needed it to be subtle and elegant,” said Barbe. “I know it will come as a shock because in the world of opera animation is almost never used.”

“Miami is a great place for contemporary art, and you don’t get more contemporary than computer animation,” said Doucet, stage director and choreographer. “We are trying to be faithful to the composer while at the same time reaching a 21st-century audience.”

“The Barber of Seville” runs Feb. 20-28 at the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. The show runs March 4 and 6 at the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.

EDITORS NOTE: For high-resolution images or a sample of the animated sets, contact Julie Ellis at 305-461-3300; Julie@newmanpr.com

Lava Studio is an award-winning post-production boutique specializing in animation and visual effects for the advertising, television and feature film industries. Advertising clients include Burger King, American Airlines, Volkswagen and the Florida Lottery. Network clients include NBC, Discovery Channel, HBO, DIRECTV and Animal Planet. Lava has worked on such feature films as “The Wicker Man,” “Blonde Ambition,” “Edison Force” and “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.”

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