LUMA, the country’s premier festival for art, technology and narrative will headline its 2020 edition with a first-of-its-kind event: a fully immersive musical theater VR experience featuring live motion-capture performance during every showtime.Miranda: A Steam Punk VR Experience is a cutting edge collaboration between LUMA, Tri-Cities Opera, Enhance VR and Opera Omaha that re-imagines world-class theater for a socially distanced age. Get ready to immerse yourself in the real time interactive narrative with a VR headset, on your PC, or via YouTube on any mobile device this September. All showtimes are EST.
Choose one of three different ways to experience any live showtime of Miranda:
1. Download the Experience and interact In Virtual Reality with an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headset.
2. Download the Experience and interact on a Desktop or Laptop Gaming PC
3. Watch the ‘Director’s Cut’ Streaming over YouTube Live
* To join the interactive experience for one of our nine showtimes in VR or using your PC alone, please stop back the week of September 7th to create a free reservation code. Software build will be sent out ahead of showtime to those who have made reservations.With a story and score by groundbreaking composer Kamala Sankaram, Miranda transports us to a dystopian future where growing class disparities have reached epic proportions and our criminal justice system serves only as a parody of what it once was. A wealthy woman has died under mysterious circumstances and three suspects’ lives are on the line. They’ll testify in aria for the chance at freedom. The online audience will serve as judge and jury–but can they even accept their own role at face value? Or has the game been rigged from the start?
Sankaram’s score balances apocalyptic pop beats with the lush lyricism of classic opera, recounting a tale that explores themes of class, bureaucracy and self-determination. The story is set against a retro-futurist backdrop that would be near impossible to realize on a traditional stage. Critically acclaimed director Alison Moritz (Washington National Opera Omaha, Tanglewood Festival) is adapting and directing the work in collaboration with interactive designer Diego Matias. Tice Lerner, Joshua Bernard Ludzki (LUMA) and John Rozzoni (Tri-Cities Opera) executive produce.
The VR Bandwagon. With hundreds upon thousands of people wanting to get their hands on a VR device that was still in development, huge companies, including giants like HTC and Steam, Google, Lionsgate and Samsung, among others, started heavily investing in virtual reality technologies and experiences.
A NOTE ON BETA TESTING: Miranda: A Steampunk VR Experience will be in the midst of beta testing for our 9 live performances in September. The team behind the production has pioneered a new software framework for presenting live musicals and opera. Miranda will be its debut production. That’s one of many reasons we’re presenting all nine performances free to the public. While we don’t anticipate any problems, we hope you’ll forgive us any technical flaws that crop up during our shakedown cruise. We’re excited to embark on this exciting new experiment in partnership with our inaugural audiences.
The unique format for this production of Miranda builds on years worth of experiments in real-time motion capture and live music performance featured at LUMA in seasons past. When COVID brought the performing arts economy to a grinding halt in early 2020, the team behind LUMA immediately realized how they could give back to their creative partners who had helped launch the festival; they set out to develop a new set of tools for the presentation of art online–tools that would catapult its users beyond the restrictions of ‘Zoom theater’.
Miranda will bring online audiences face-to-face with a motley cast of would-be murderers–highly detailed 3D avatars controlled in real time by studio actors located in Binghamton, NY. The format was conceived by LUMA co-founder Joshua Bernard Ludzki, whose fascination with well-crafted immersive theater made him wonder if the same level of intimacy could be produced remotely via VR. As with all live theater, each performance of Miranda will be unique, leveraging low-latency streaming and studio-quality codecs to ensure a nuanced experience. In contrast to live theater, every viewer will have a premium seat as they watch with only a few other audience members inside one of several hundred ‘virtual rows.’
The Biggest Concerns. Despite the positives, there are some concerns about virtual reality. For example, some critics point out health and safety issues. If the technology is not used properly, users might suffer from health issues like seizures and other major discomfort. Some people could also trip and fall. There are also major privacy concerns with virtual reality. Some people fear that the headsets could lead to government surveillance, although there is no proof of that as of yet.
Enhance VR and LUMA are developing completely original software for Miranda, leveraging industry standard gaming frameworks like Unity in compelling new ways. The network and synchronization backend will be provided by Photon. Miranda’s VR edition is designed for the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift headsets.
Miranda: A Steam Punk VR Experience will play 9 performances over the course of three nights: September 24th, 25th and 26th, 2020. All showtimes are EST.[WANT TO MAKE SURE LUMA IS AROUND IN 2021 TO BUILD MORE INNOVATIVE PROJECTS LIKE MIRANDA? CONTRIBUTE NOW.]
Scientists with NASA can use virtual reality to enable robot arms in space to perform gestures that are being done on earth with an operator.