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Kennedy Center's Washington National Opera

The Kennedy Center, which opened its doors to the public in 1971 with President Kennedy's mandate that it "contribute to the human spirit," serves as a preeminent cultural center in the heart of the nation's capital. The Washington National Opera (WNO), founded in 1956 and affiliated with The Kennedy Center since 2011, expands the Center's repertoire with opera, presenting a year-long season of approximately 6 works.

Challenges

In spring 2016, for the first time ever, the Kennedy Center's Washington National Opera (WNO) put on the complete Ring Cycle, Richard Wagner's opera of mythical status. The monumental task required the WNO team to stage 3 complete cycles (more than 51 hours of opera) over 3 weeks in a single performance space. Given the opera's world renown, the prestigious WNO knew they had to create more than a beautiful projection display- they had to create an entirely immersive world. Due to the number of set changes and the demands for stunning visuals, the team relied on digital scenery.

Solutions

WNO decided on six Panasonic PT-DZ13K and six PT-DZ21K projectors. These high lumen projectors (12K and 20K lumens, respectively) could create stunning visuals with crisp detail and accurate color rendering, yet were quiet enough to mount just 3ft away from audience members without detection and were light enough for just one or two stagehands to lift and manipulate during the show's tight set-up windows.

Results

The sold-out show was met with shouts and bravos from audience members and acclaim from critics. DC Metro Theatre Arts’ David Friscic called the design "a luminous marvel" and lauded the "naturally immersive and pulsating visual projections." (Friscic, 2016)

Of these operas, few have required the rigorous demands or carried the high expectations and profile as Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring Cycle), a four-part, 17-hour work composed in 1848. The Ring Cycle commands a production worthy of its highly-revered, almost mythical status. For its first time ever, WNO put on the complete ring cycle-- and did so three times over the course of three weeks in a single performance space. This rigorous schedule would require the entire stage to be re-set practically every night. Due to the number of set changes and the demand for an awe-inspiring experience, the team relied on projector-powered digital scenery to create an immersive world. Owing to a tight installation window, the projectors had to be small enough to quickly mount and they had to be easy to control, while delivering bright, powerful video.

WNO decided on six Panasonic PT-DZ13K 12,000 lm projectors mounted on the balcony rail in the front box, just three feet away from the audience. The quietness of the PT-DZ13K, which ranges between 37 to 45 db depending on operating mode, ensured opera-goers enjoyed the performance without distraction. WNO also installed an additional six Panasonic PT-DZ21K 20,000 lm projectors mounted upstage on a flying platform.

I would certainly recommend Panasonic technology to anybody. Panasonic has done wonderful work for us.
Glenn A Turner, Head of Production Operations, Kennedy Center

Weighing just 53 lbs for its 12,000 lm output, the PT-DZ13K required a single stagehand to move and manipulate it. The ultra-compact PT-DZ21K weighs 90.4 lbs for its 20,0000 lm output, requiring only 2 stagehands to move it. Said Sean McNally, Projectionist & Video Systems Technician at The Kennedy Center: "It saved a lot of time and hassle to be able to manipulate the projectors easily due to their light weight." He continued, "I think these Panasonic projectors are a good combination of size, resolution, and lumens. They don’t take up a lot of space, they are very, very sharp, the color rendering is good, and they put out a lot of light for the size of the projector."

With a 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution, the projectors created stunning visuals with crisp detail and accurate color reproduction. DC Metro Theatre Artscio David Friscic called the design "a luminous marvel" and lauded the "naturally immersive and pulsating visual projections." (Friscic, 2016)

The level of detail that we’ve gotten out the projectors has allowed us to really create an immersive world.
Sean McNally, Projectionist & Video Systems Technician, Kennedy Center

"Everybody at Panasonic has been fantastic about trying to work with us and help us make this project possible. They made sure that if we needed any technical help, they were available to help us" stated Glenn A Turner, Head of Production Operations at the Kennedy Center. The WNO team used Panasonic’s Multi Monitoring and Control software, which enables users to manage up to 2,048 Panasonic projectors and professional displays over a LAN network. WNO was able to control power, brightness, input switching, schedule image delivery, and more using this software.

The sold-out Ring Cycle was met with shouts and bravos from the audience and acclaim from critics. Said Turner "I would certainly recommend Panasonic technology to anybody. Panasonic has done wonderful work for us." Concluded Paul Taylor, Technical Director at WNO: "Our experience has taught us that you cannot go wrong with Panasonic. They are a true partner."