The Industry, an artistic company focused on pushing the limits of productions and transcending traditional views of opera, was tasked with creating an experiential, immersive production that would expand the definition of the medium. To create something that fused visual artistry and musical ingenuity, The Industry created Sweet Land, an opera that serves as an experiential procession through the Los Angeles State Historic Park. Given the opera’s unconventional outdoors environment, The Industry needed a reliable partner that could deliver technology and blend the real world with stunning visuals from a variety of projection effects across multiple backdrops including scrims, landscapes, cityscapes and even walls of mist.
The Industry collaborated with Panasonic to provide the necessary projection mapping technology and developed an entirely immersive opera experience that presented both audio and visual elements. Together, Panasonic and The Industry created Sweet Land by deploying 11 of Panasonic’s projectors – one PT-RZ21K Series 3-Chip DLP® SOLID SHINE Laser Projector, six PT-RZ12K 3-Chip DLP® Series Projectors and four PT-RZ770U 1-Chip DLP® Fixed Installation Laser Projectors. This array allowed for projection mapping techniques that paired visual elements with musical cues throughout the L.A. State Historic Park.
By deploying Panasonic’s laser projection and lens technology throughout the urban outdoor environment, guests progressed through a one-of-a-kind opera experience. Sweet Land, which derives its title from the iconic lyrics to “America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee)” by Samuel Francis Smith, was able to encompass the narrative of American identity with diverging perspectives through a series of displays and musical elements. Considering the layers of implemented technology that support the layers of meaning implicit in this particular piece about the unique American experience, it’s difficult to imagine a more appropriate setting than Los Angeles — one of the richest U.S. centers for diversity and immigrant culture. Luckily, Sweet Land was able to complete its run in March 2020 with minimal impact from the COVID-19 pandemic and only a few cancellations.
Panasonic’s projectors were essential to this process and execution. Beginning as a procession through the L.A. State Historic Park, the opera separates the audience onto diverging tracks in order to experience different perspectives of history. Spanning across 32 acres of open space, Sweet Land audiences were welcomed to walk pathways and take in the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the city, all while witnessing an immersive musical display. Guests experienced projection mapping and music working together to showcase artistic elements projected onto various pieces of the park, including a bridge, billboard and even a water display.
“The way projection mapping enables guests to walk through a story, while simultaneously listening to opera music is what makes Sweet Land so unique,” said Hana Sooyeon Kim, a L.A.-based projection and set designer who helped create and launch Sweet Land. “One of the most popular exhibits was the water display, where visuals were projected onto the water’s mist. Due to the layers of the mist, and Panasonic’s ability to execute on such a unique surface, the audience was captivated, and thought the image was a 3D hologram, rather than projection mapping.”
The compact size, flexibility and durability of Panasonic’s projectors, along with their filter-less design and virtually maintenance-free features, allowed The Industry’s team to nimbly install the technology at the beginning of each day and break it down at the end of the night. Panasonic’s projectors were up for the challenge, and despite being placed in outdoor settings and projecting on non-traditional surfaces, guests could expect exceptional image quality with consistent performance throughout the entire show.
“We were dealing with unconventional surfaces, different textures and a space that’s significantly larger than a typical opera house, and therefore our decisions on the technology used and where each projector was installed was a strategic one,” said Kim. “As this opera was outdoors, it was critical the projectors accommodated our unique environmental requirements, while being durable and lasting for extensive periods of time while outdoors and on uneven terrain.”
Check out the video below to hear more from Hana Kim’s perspective and to learn more about how the collaboration between The Industry and Panasonic has reinvigorated the opera medium as well as the technical limits of live performance in general for a new generation of cosmopolitan American aficionados.