Kaneko’s “The Magic Flute” Surfaces new Talents in Video Imagery

Quoted by the Huffington Post as being among the highest registers of digital technology, Jun Kaneko’s production of “The Magic Flute” continues to impress some of the nation’s best critics. This comes as no surprise to Clark Creative Group’s Head Video Editor Kevin Reiner, who built all of the video imagery used in Kaneko’s opera.

“This was the third opera we had done with Jun so when he asked if we would help with his next one, of course we said yes,” Reiner said. “He told us it was going to be big, but I never imagined how big it would actually become.”

The request was to create digital motion animations for a 160-minute production utilizing nine screens of varied proportions—a project that took more than 500 hours to complete.

Reiner and his partner Mark Grossart spent months working with Kaneko developing the show. The two made sure plenty of thought was put into making the animations look as authentic to Jun’s artwork as possible. The amount of detail needed for such a project required Reiner to experiment with all kinds of tools. The simplest lines required extensive amounts of work in order to make them look like Jun’s freehand drawings.

“There were three things we had to do with each drawing,” Reiner said. “We would roughen the edges using the displacement tool, add texture to the line itself using the map effect and then use the random bender effect to make the line look realistic and not perfectly straight. We used programs like Adobe After Effects to make Jun’s paintings come to life,” Reiner said.

Working on other projects with Jun prior to the Magic Flute allowed for an ease in communication. This made the creative process incredibly smooth, allowing both parties to learn more about the craft of the other.

“The great thing about working with Jun is that he came in so prepared,” Reiner said. “His storyboard was so detailed that it was just a matter of animating it.”

After months of planning, the team headed to San Francisco to make the final preparations and edits before opening night. The trip included new challenges of its own, but Reiner said seeing the entire performance was fun for him, as he could finally see his contributions paired with the rest of the show.

“It was neat to finally see it all together because for a year I had only seen the individual clips,” Reiner said.”

Reflecting on how all the work was executed, Reiner said he was proud to be a part of something so different. Looking back at all the time spent and challenges faced, he is excited to see the opera doing so well, and most of all, happy that Jun was able to see his vision come to life.

“I am very proud of the technical achievement,” Reiner said. “I am extremely pleased with how everything turned out and am ecstatic about being able to create what Jun wanted.”

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