Royal Swedish Opera’s Virtual Reality Recording Nominated for Film Festival Awards

By Logan Martell

The Royal Swedish Opera has announced that its production of Sharon Eyal work “Half Life,” which was recorded using Virtual Reality, has been nominated for awards at the prestigious Venice International Film Festival, as well as the Biennale de Lyon festival.

“Half Life VR,” as the recording of the production is called, allows the audience to experience the dancers from 60 vantage points that offer details that otherwise could not be seen from their seats. To make this possible the Royal Swedish Ballet teamed up with Robert & Robert Studios, which specializes in Virtual Reality technology. Robert Connor, of Robert & Robert Studios, says of the recording: “No VR production has ever used so many angles and transitions like this. Every cut and angle in Half Life VR is intended to enhance the presence of the spectator in the dance.”

Cecilia Djurberg, a theatre and dance critic at Aftonbladet, describes the VR experience thusly: “I am right here in the middle of the dancers on the Royal Swedish Opera’s stage, and in some sequences hovering above … as the cyborg-like ensemble, in their skin-tight tricot costumes, approach in clusters, pointing and staring.”

These nominations come as the Royal Swedish Opera has recently come to attention for its use of Augmented Reality technology in its season program, allowing for music and video to supplement a patron’s experience via an app on his or her smartphone.

“Half Life VR” is entered in the “Competition linear” category at the Venice International Film Festival, with communications director Catarina Falkenhav representing the Royal Swedish Opera. Falkenhav says “Naturally we are absolutely delighted with the nominations, which are testimony the high level of artistic quality at the Royal Swedish Opera. As a national stage, we should be at the absolute leading edge when it comes to using new digital technology. Opera and ballet lend themselves easily to digitalization. Ultimately, it is about finding new ways to convey our performing arts and reach even larger audiences.”