Projection Designer Hana Kim uses Panasonic laser projectors for SWEET LAND opera

4 min

Based in Los Angeles, The Industry is an independent, artist-driven company that creates experimental productions that help expand the boundaries of opera. Their latest production is SWEET LAND, which the company describes as “a grotesque historical pageant that disrupts the dominant narrative of American identity.”

SWEET LAND is an opera for current times with music by Raven Chacon and Du Yun, libretto by Aja Couchois Duncan and Douglas Kearney, and directed by Yuval Sharon and Cannupa Hanska Luger. It tells a story of Arrivals who wash up on the shore and connect with another civilization known as Hosts. Tackling the hard subject of American colonialism, SWEET LAND takes place inside Los Angeles State Historic Park – the former site of the Southern Pacific Transportation Company's River Station (1876−1901). The station was once considered the "Ellis Island of Los Angeles" where arrivals from the East Coast would disembark when arriving in Los Angeles.

SWEET LAND opera takes place inside Los Angeles State Historic Park, which is the former site of the Southern Pacific Transportation Company's River Station (1876−1901).

The outdoor night setting of the park is a perfect setting for music, performance and audience participation. “The production of SWEET LAND and its all-important projection design was a great discussion on how exterior immersive projection mapping could be accomplished with Panasonic laser projection of 20,000 lumens and less for great results,” says Joseph M. Conover, Strategic Initiatives Manager, Panasonic Live Events. “This is a great example of theater quality projection mapping within a modest artistic budget a perfect fit for Panasonic Live Events.”

Projection Designer Hana Kim created the visuals for SWEET LAND using Panasonic laser projectors and projection mapping technology. One of the things that excites Kim about projection mapping is that it enables her to “touch the pixel” and open up her imagination. “Panasonic laser projectors really standout for their compactness when you think about how powerful they are,” explains Kim. “In terms of the relationship between lumens, punchiness and their vivid color, it’s really perfect for both theatrical and event setups.”

Projection Designer Hana Kim used a single Panasonic PT-RZ21K 3-Chip DLP 20,000 lm Laser Projector for main stage projection.

Projection Flexibility

In SWEET LAND, the audience travels to different locations within the park and Kim used Panasonic laser projectors in three different locations. The first location was the main stage where the opera starts. She used a single PT-RZ21K 3-Chip DLP 20,000 lm Laser Projector for front projection on a large and partially transparent scrim. Actors performed both in front of the scrim and behind it. While the actors performed behind the scrim, they were backlit, appearing to live inside the projected image.

For the second location, Kim used two PT-RZ770 1-Chip DLP 7,200 lm Laser Projectors for The Crossroads sequence where she projected hypnotic images onto a water mist created by three makeshift sprinkler systems. “It appeared as if the water was glowing more than having one flat image,” explains Kim. “It [sprinkler system] had three layers of mist, which gave it a 3D effect.”

Backlit actors behind the scrim appeared to live inside Kim's projected image.

For the last scene of the opera, instead of projecting on a screen, Kim used six PT-RZ12KU 3-Chip DLP 12,000 lm Laser Projectors to map text and images 200 feet across the North Broadway bridge outside of the park. The goal at the end of the opera was to use the city of Los Angeles as the projection surface. “Panasonic projectors are really beneficial to create that look because the images blended really well,” explains Kim. “The color temperature was consistent from left to right. When you put multiple projectors next to each other and try to blend the images, it’s often challenging, but Panasonic projectors are very even and we were able to create a seamless surface.”

Creating Art That Matters

“Hana’s creative yet subtle design really spoke to us,” reveals Conover. “The projection was an integrated feature of the opera and told the story equally as the live actors and orchestra. The ‘Broadway Bridge’ scene in particular was perfect sensory immersion blending each show element while now including Los Angeles as a backdrop integrating the audience in LA history.”

“The experience of collaborating with Panasonic has been delightful,” concludes Kim. “Not only because of their tech support, but also because of the heart of the company. The fact that the two partnerships understood the art – especially during this time – was just a joy.”

See how Hana Kim uses Panasonic laser projectors and projection mapping for SWEET LAND...

Despite great reviews and sold-out performances in its first two weeks, SWEET LAND was forced to close two weeks ahead of schedule due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Industry is now offering a video on-demand stream, which you can purchase at http://stream.sweetlandopera.com/.

For more information on Panasonic laser projectors, click through here.