Reimagining the opera
3D World UK|October 2020
Reimagining the opera
How Xsens helped to animate a new vision for the Dutch National Opera

Housed in a modernist theatre in the centre of Amsterdam, Dutch National Opera is home to some of the Netherlands’ most prestigious opera performances, producing as many as 11 shows every year. In a bid to promote the coming 2020-21 season’s programme, the institution opted for a commercial redesign, commissioning a series of animated vignettes to represent each production.

Dutch National Opera looked to attract new audiences to the theatre with a modern approach. Taking inspiration from innovative artists on Instagram, the organisation decided upon a human-led aesthetic with movement at the heart of the design, which required body motion data captured from real performers.

They looked to the creative talents of BeamSystems, an audiovisual production company also based in Amsterdam that specialises in innovation, helping its clients realise their vision through the use of new technologies – be it installation, content creation, or design. Both Niels Nuijten of Dutch National Opera, and Jason Malone from BeamSystems, spoke to us about how Xsens MVN Animate helped build this visually striking video.


An established art form with its origins firmly rooted in performance history, opera continues to attract a devoted audience. However, with present-day opera sharing the stage with many other performance genres, Dutch National Opera sought a modern approach to re-capture the spotlight. “The team got together and brainstormed: how do we connect the identity of the theatre to the future while keeping its traditional roots? We realised we could achieve this by tying in art and movement. We selected mocap to showcase movement through visuals,” says Nuijten.

Finding a balance between opera’s rich history and modernity was key to the design process. “We started with the ideas for 12 videos and ended up with more,” explains Nuijten. “We wanted to accurately symbolise the operas without relying on cliche or thematics, all while emphasising the emotion that comes with opera. There were two parts to this: visual artistry and original movements.”


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October 2020