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The theatre’s digital leap

30th August 2016 2 comments
A virtual character is seen on the stage of Tampere Music Academy’s opera show Life on the Moon. Digital technology also brings new content levels to the story.

TAMK will also participate in the technical implementation, lighting, stage setting and the media team. Life on the Moon is a mass production of TAMK’s School of Art, Music and Media.

Joseph Haydn’s opera tells about a miser, who tyrannises his surroundings, whose loved ones teach him a lesson. They drug the scrooge, set the stage of his home to look like the moon and convince the man that he is in space. The opera is directed by Erik Söderblom and Pyynikki Symphony is directed by Conductor Markus Yli-Jokipii.

Motion Capture technology is used in the production, which is, presumably, the first time in such a major role of an opera performance. The actor is wearing a suit, which has reflectors, which the cameras follow and, with the help of the reflector points, create an image of the actor’s body. A virtual character is created on the basis of the points, whose motions are natural, as the actor produces them with his/her body.

Peek under the bonnet

The project is unique, because Motion Capture technology is now used in real time. The actor sings and moves on the stage while the virtual character, created from his/her motions, is projected in the background.

– The viewer will see both the actor and the virtual character created from him/her. We are literally looking under the bonnet of opera, says Söderholm.

Keho Interactive Oy’s Motion Capture Specialist Mikko Karsisto is in charge of the idea’s technical implementation. Karsisto is familiar with the technology, but real time projection sets challenges both on the stage and for technical work.

”The viewer will see both the actor and the virtual character created from him/her.”

– Certain motions are impossible, because the cameras must be able to see the suit’s reference points all the time. The actor cannot lie on his back, and another actor cannot come too close, so that the points are not obscured.

Technology serves art

sivukuvaIf the real time use of technology progresses smoothly, it is likely that it will be used more in both TAMK’s productions as well as in the entire media and art sector. Karsisto believes that the use of the technology will become easier in the future, when cameras are no longer necessary. In this case, the character can be created with just a sensor suit, with the help of magnetic and acceleration energy.

In Söderblom’s opinion, combining digital technology with opera has been natural. Theatre technical innovations have been created in musical theatre throughout times. Lifts and electricity were introduced for the first time in performances that combined music and motion.

– The project is important, because the stage technology of traditional theatre is behind its times. Real time digital technology provides the theatre with new content opportunities. Actors can, for example, carry cameras with them, and viewers are able to see the events through the eyes of the actor, suggests Söderholm.

Fiction in fiction

According to Markus Yli-Jokipii, Life on the Moon is a perfect choice both musically and in terms of its story. Haydn’s popularity and appreciation is on the rise, and in Life on the Moon as many good soloists as possible can be brought out.

Yli-Jokipii describes the story as a 1700s sci-fi. The virtual element is well suited for both the opera plot and the visual world, where space, stage setting and fiction are combined.

– Life on the Moon is fiction in fiction, Söderholm sums up.

At its time, Life on the Moon was a vision of, what it could be like on the moon. Human kind has now conquered space, and year 2016’s Life on the Moon visualises the sort of doors digitalism can open to performing arts.

Life on the Moon will premiere at Tampere’s Music Academy in the Pyynikki Hall on the 30th September.

Tampere music academy

Tampere Music Academy is a learning environment shared by music students of TAMK and Tampere Conservatoire, a private institute providing education in music and dance.


  • The use of Motion Capture technology began to become more common in the 1990s. It can be used to create naturally-moving characters, for example, for animation movies and games.
  • The most famous character created with the technology is Gollum from The Lord of the Rings movies. Actor Andy Serkis provided the virtual character with a body and voice.
  • Usually the actor preforms his/her role first and the virtual character is created afterwards.


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Erik Martin 29th September 2016 at 21:43

So.. how and when can one go see this? Is this a chance to see the production or the technology behind it? I’m interested in both.

Andruta Ilie 30th September 2016 at 12:16

Hello Erik!

We think there’s a chance to see both.
Here is the schedule of the performances:
Performances 2016:
Fri 30.9 | Sun 2.10 | Wed 5.10 | Fri 7.10 | Sat 8.10 |Sun 9.10 | Fri 14.10 | Sat 15.10 |
Pyynikkisali, Tampere Music Academy, F.E. Sillanpäänkatu 9, Tampere.
Tickets: 30/20 €. Advance sale at Lippu.fi.

Have a great time if you go and see it!


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