Royal Opera House: Otello
A promotional video created for the Royal Opera House's 2017 production of Verdi's opera 'Otello', based on the Shakespeare play 'Othello'.
We drew a parallel between the villain Iago's manipulation of Otello and the theatrical trickery involved in staging an operatic production. Iago is seen manoeuvring Otello via a control panel, until the protagonist realises that the world he inhabits is in fact a theatre stage.
Otello's realisation that his reality is a lie reaches a crescendo when we see him walk out of his bedroom and discover a backstage props room. As we were unable to move the camera, the set was rotated incrementally between shots to achieve the illusion of a pan. The character was supported with foam board rigging which was edited out in post production.
For the pan around the whole theatre five interchangeable wall pieces were designed, based on the auditorium of the Royal Opera House itself. These were slotted into place, removed to accommodate the camera and then repositioned as the set rotated.
We developed a white on white aesthetic and carefully controlled the lighting in order to exploit the potential for storytelling with shadows. The contract between light and dark in the film highlights the thematic contrasts in the opera: illusion and reality, good and evil, sanity and madness. Shadows were also instrumental to character development. We designed the protagonist with empty eye sockets and built his face up with harsh angles, relying on the shadows created to communicate facial expressions.