2 May 2014 at 12.11pm | Comment on this article
‘I was interested in finding a way to visually record an opera performance and so I began working on a machine that would be able to record audio information in a physical form,' says Doug. 'I was particularly inspired by the waveform visualization of sound, as well as methods of recording music over the ages. However, I have very little engineering knowledge and so I turned to Lego to help me prototype ideas. This allowed me to focus on the outcome rather than the technicalities.'
'The final result involved a plotter device which sat atop a rotating record player. The machine tracked slowly across a piece of paper on the turntable, while two ink brushes translated the vocals of the music into spiralling lines of varying widths. This created a waveform pattern of the song,' he explains. ''O Soave Fanciulla' from La bohème was perfect as the male and female vocal tracks could each be assigned to a different brush.
'I haven't had much experience of opera, which I suppose has helped me look at it from a different angle, hopefully this project can foster someone else's interest in it too!’
Opera Shorts are the result of collaboration with Kingston University in which the Royal Opera House invited a group of students to immerse themselves in what opera is and how it is made, and then create an animation inspired by an opera.
We will release one animation each Friday lunchtime on the ROH blog and the ROH YouTube channel. You may also spot one or two of these films if you come along to one of our free outdoor BP Big Screen events this summer.
View the other films in our Opera Shorts series.
What do you think of the films and which moments from opera do you think would work well as animations?