Library of Congress Seeks to Acquire “Alice in the Pandemic”
Published on: December 15, 2020
The Library of Congress has reached out to White Snake Projects to acquire Alice in the Pandemic, A Digital Opera, for its Performing Arts COVID-19 Response Collection. The digital opera represented a major project for Becker students, alumni, and professors, who worked on the technology side of the production.
According to the request received by White Snake Productions from the Library of Congress, its desire to acquire “Alice” for its Performing Arts COVID-19 Response Collection cited it as “an exceptional work [that] embodies the artistic qualities and subject content we are seeking for this special collection.”
The digital opera, which debuted in October, was described as a “deep dive down the rabbit hole into the elasticity of time, the unmooring of life, the heroism of doing one’s job, and the reconciliation of mother and daughter.” Created by Libretto Cerise Lim Jacobs, with music by Jorge Sosa and art by Anna Campbell, the production used new technology that made it possible for remote singers to perform together in real-time as their 3D avatars interact in CGI environments.
The tech side of the opera was led by Professor Curvin Huber—who serves as the Director for Innovation at White Snake Projects and was responsible for the CGI solutions—and Adjunct Professor Pirate Epstein. Sarith Sun and Gage Domhoff, graduates of Becker, and Ryan Casey, a current student, worked on 3D animation and effects.
According to Huber, “This project was particularly challenging since every team member, including the singers, were working remotely from their homes. Nearly all of our technical solutions were custom designed with a few off-the-shelf technologies. However, what made the production so successful was the timeliness of the subject matter. The idea for this production was born in April, only six months before it debuted. This was a record amount of time to design a live performance of this magnitude. The show debuted right about the time that the country saw a major uptick in COVID cases, and this seemed to really hit home for many in the audience. In addition to the timeliness of the subject matter, I believe the Library of Congress was also interested in our project because our team was able to quickly adapt to the limitations the pandemic presented to everyone.”
“We’re really proud that we helped create new technology to make this digital pivot possible,” said Paul Cotnoir, Assistant Dean of the School of Design & Technology. “The creative vision of Cerise Jacobs and her team at White Snake Projects is reshaping the face of modern opera, and we were thrilled to have a part in that effort.” Cotnoir noted that the opera debuted on a new performance-enhanced platform, Streamweaver. Professor Huber and Andy Carluccio, the founder of Liminal and developer of Streamweaver, invented a new facial motion capture system that enables real-time capture from singers in remote locations.
To see a promo video, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgqN2-NzJYY&feature=youtu.be
To read the story about Alice originally published by Becker, go to https://www.becker.edu/becker-scores-another-virtual-opera/