AMITIAE - Tuesday 25 February 2014

Opera Subtitles from Epson Using Moverio BT-200 Smartglasses

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By Graham K. Rogers


Last year I attended an opera performance of the opera, The Silent Prince, in which subtitles were projected onto screens at either side of the stage at the Thailand Cultural Center. Eventually, I stopped looking at the subtitles and concentrated on the performance, which was why I was there.

The purist may decry the use of such subtitles: after all I do not need to know Italian to enjoy Aïda, nor German to know what is going on in Siegfried. Some companies deal with the problem by staging productions in English and I went to a number of Wagner productions put on by the Welsh National Opera, but even then, singing makes some words less understandable. Some may not care as the human voice can be considered another instrument for the composer, but this does not suit all.

The perennial problem is putting bums on seats. Being able to understand the words may be a way to help here (even if some organisers allocate the best seats to VIPs, leaving those willing to pay top prices on the edges - but that is another problem).

Moverio Using its Moverio BT-200 smartglasses solution, Epson is working with the Japanese New National Theatre Foundation (NNTF), Information Services International - Dentsu, Ltd., and Zimaku+ Inc. to test an opera subtitle delivery system.

The glasses will be made available to selected guests who will be testing at performances of Ariadne auf Naxos from 28 February to 2 March. Subtitles will be projected onto the lenses, so there will be less distraction for patrons. As with my experiences of subtitles, Epson also outlines the disadvantages of the current projection system. In its press release it details some parts of the collaboration:

  • NNTT Opera Studio will present a production of Ariadne auf Naxos (Strauss)
  • ISID will provide an area-limited, Wi-Fi multicasting platform to deliver synchronized subtitles
  • Zimaku+ will produce the subtitles and run the server

More information about Epson products may be found on the Epson Global website.

See also:
An afternoon at the Opera in Bangkok: The Silent Prince

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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