A few days ago, a live broadcast event with the theme "When Technology Meets the Beauty of Opera" attracted more than 7 million people to watch online.

The biggest highlight of this live broadcast is that with the help of artificial intelligence, 6DoF and other digital technologies, nearly 50 classic plays can be presented to the audience in a new look, and the audience can experience the "singing, chanting, performing and fighting" of opera up close.

  This live broadcast event, initiated by the Art Development Center of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Tencent, kicked off the "Digital Renewal Action for Chinese Opera Culture", allowing people to see the huge potential of digital technology in empowering the inheritance and dissemination of opera.

Artificial intelligence restores opera images and reproduces the style of old artists

  The live broadcast presented a high-definition video collection of nearly 50 classic opera works, including "Xiaoyaojin", "Jiujiangkou", "Gucheng Hui", "Tianxian Pei" and other classic works, involving Peking Opera, Kun Opera, Yue Opera, Sichuan Opera, Henan Opera, Ping Opera, Cantonese Opera , Huangmei Opera, Huai Opera, Qin Opera and other different opera types.

  Most of these images of opera works were taken in the 1940s and 1950s.

Due to being stored for too long, many works have various problems such as defects, jitters, scratches, flickers, noise, blur, etc. Some films and tapes even break at the first touch.

To reproduce the opera images on film, the film must be restored.

  Using artificial intelligence technology can greatly improve repair efficiency.

A restorer said that the manual restoration process is complicated and trivial, and it takes an experienced restorer several months to complete the restoration of a drama film.

Artificial intelligence has deep learning capabilities. With the increase of "repair experience", it can quickly find the optimal repair solution from the "repair memory" when faced with various image problems.

  Artificial intelligence restoration technology can not only fill in the defects, but also pay attention to the details and texture of the image, making the image more delicate and vivid.

For example, the opera film "The Match" was filmed in the 1950s. Not only is the picture blurry, but some characters' faces are also obscured by noise.

During the restoration, artificial intelligence technology is used to not only reproduce the outline of the character's face, but also generate the details of the character's face through simulation technology, and even every hair and eyelash can be perfectly presented.

  "Many people today have never seen famous opera actors such as Mei Lanfang. Through the restored high-definition opera works, we can not only see the true appearance of famous actors, but more importantly, we can appreciate their original performance skills." Kunshan Lin Yujia, a contemporary Kunqu Opera actor said.

  The nearly 50 plays broadcast live this time are the first batch of works restored using artificial intelligence restoration technology under the "Chinese Opera Culture Digital Renewal Action".

"Our philosophy is to restore the old as it was before. Not only do we do enhancements such as improving clarity, but we also hope to restore the age of the restored works to the greatest extent, such as color tone, sound quality, etc., and try to retain the characteristics of the past era." Tencent participated in the restoration work. Xu Xiaozhong, head of the Extended Media Center of the Multimedia Laboratory, said this.

  The use of artificial intelligence technology to restore opera images is regarded by industry experts as an innovative measure for the inheritance of opera culture.

Peng Wei, director of the National Peking Opera Company’s Creation and Research Center, believes that the restored opera works presented to the audience not only retain the charm of traditional opera, but also add visual impact, comprehensively enhancing the artistic and social value of opera.

  "This restoration of opera images is both a technical experiment and an artistic experiment." Shu Zhan, head of the Digital Culture Laboratory of Tencent's Sustainable Social Value Division, said that he hopes that through the restoration of the first batch of works, it will not only accumulate technology, but also promote Development of corresponding repair standards.

Digital sculptural records provide new means for opera research, teaching, and learning

  The camera slowly advances and focuses on the dancers.

In the video, "Mei Fei" wears a pale pink long-sleeved dance dress with a long skirt that touches the floor and dances like a flying geese. This is the most classic dance in the "Mei Fei" excerpt - the Jinghong Dance.

  The live broadcast uses 6DoF technology to deconstruct Jinghong Dance, and high-definition shows the actors' very small movements and expressions such as wrist movements and eye movements.

The audience can "walk freely" in the picture, choose different perspectives to watch, and can also zoom in or out on the dancer's expressions and movements at will.

  The significance of 6DoF technology is not only to enrich the three-dimensional content of live broadcasts and enhance the immersion of viewing, but also to provide new means for opera research, teaching, and learning.

  Program is the main feature of the art of opera. Singing, reading, acting, and playing all have programs.

Traditional opera requires actors to stylize every move they make on the stage. Each stylized action has certain content and technical requirements. For example, "qiba" means the appearance of a general, and "walking by the side" means walking quickly at night.

The difficulty in learning opera lies in learning opera routines, because all routines require "tapping" one action at a time.

  6DoF technology can record 360-degree frame-by-frame high-definition shooting details of each action and subtle expression of opera actors, and can be zoomed in and viewed repeatedly.

"This kind of digital engraved record makes every move in an opera performance clear at a glance, providing a standard paradigm for opera learners. By repeatedly zooming in to watch the relevant programmed movements, theater fans can learn opera by themselves without having to be apprenticed to a teacher." Beijing Peking Opera Theater said Wang Mengting, an actress from Mei Lanfang’s Peking Opera Troupe.

  The changes in shooting, recording and presentation methods brought about by new technologies also have different significance for the inheritance and research of opera.

For example, many precious and unique skills in opera and martial arts are rarely seen on the stage and are almost lost due to the difficulty and strict inheritance of skills and movements.

6DoF technology is used to record 360-degree high-definition frame-by-frame performances of martial arts actors, and then when zoomed in and viewed, the relevant technical movements are decomposed, and the essentials of the movements can be summarized.

Shu Zhan said that opera teaching courseware can be produced based on these, which will greatly improve the effect of opera teaching.

  According to Wang Kui, director of the Institute of Opera Research at the China Academy of Arts and president of the Chinese Opera Society, opera video materials are an important basis for recording, inheriting, protecting, and researching the art of opera. The image data left behind resulted in the lack of the most important original material for subsequent studies on the Xun School.

Today there are hundreds of theater troupes across the country, and each troupe has at least hundreds of plays. If we can use technical means like 6DoF to record the works of all theater troupes in a panoramic manner, it will be an extremely valuable asset. .

Create a new ecology for opera inheritance and explore new models of opera culture

  The use of artificial intelligence image restoration, immersive media, 6DoF, point cloud modeling and other technologies can give classic opera images a new look, make opera program movements more three-dimensional, make opera communication methods more diverse, and provide audiences with a richer immersive experience. .

  "Digital technology has brought far more to the art of opera than the above." Wang Kui pointed out that digital art has now intervened in all aspects of the inheritance and dissemination of opera, and is helping to create new ecology and business formats for opera.

For example, using online live broadcast technology, opera live broadcasts are in full swing.

The opera live broadcast data released by Douyin shows that there are 231 types of operas broadcast on the platform in 2022, with more than 800,000 opera live broadcasts, a cumulative audience of more than 2.5 billion, and an average audience of 3,200 per game, which is equivalent to every live broadcast. It's a medium-sized show.

The live broadcast of opera has not only opened up a larger communication space for opera culture, but also gained more young audiences, which shows that a new opera ecology is forming in the "cloud".

  Wang Kui believes that opera must not only use digital technology to increase the speed of communication, expand the scope of communication, and preserve stage moments, but also introduce digital technology into opera creation, enrich the form of opera expression, and shorten the distance between opera art and modern audiences.

  "From a creative perspective, with the help of digital technology, lighting can be used to create many scenes that cannot be presented with traditional stage technology, so that the real environment and the virtual world can be perfectly integrated, creating a new stage space for opera performances." Culture. The relevant person in charge of the Art Development Center of the Ministry of Tourism said.

  If traditional culture wants to gain vitality, it must return to current life and meet the trendy aesthetic needs of young people.

Wang Kui believes that the use of digital technology to rejuvenate opera not only allows classic opera works to be permanently preserved in high definition and conveniently disseminated, but also allows opera to become nationally trendy and make opera glow with new brilliance in the new era.

  In addition, digital technology can also provide solutions to opera copyright issues.

Experts pointed out that the use of blockchain and other technologies to establish a traditional opera digital resource library can provide effective support for opera copyright protection and opera digital storage, and provide efficient assistance for the market operation and copyright confirmation of opera.

(Our reporter Han Yeting)