Delcam’s ArtCAM artistic CADCAM software is being used by the workshops at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre to produce spectacular scenery for operas and other productions. The software allows scenery to be made more quickly and at significantly lower cost.
The world-famous Mariinsky Theatre was built in 1860. Since then, it has become an integral part of Russian culture that has given debuts to many of the great opera singers, as well as being one of the main architectural attractions in St. Petersburg.
'All of our scenery has always been complex and uniquely detailed so the cost of its production was quite high, remembered Head of Department at the Theatre, Inessa V. Almazova. 'The Theatre’s management set us the task of developing modern and efficient manufacturing techniques that would greatly reduce the financial cost of the scenery'
'A few years ago, the supplier of our large-format printers showed us equipment to cut sheet-metal parts on a milling machine. We acquired a three-axis milling machine, designed for cutting soft sheet material wood, plywood, plastic, foams, etc.'
'The same supplier advised us to use ArtCAM for the programming. We were soon able to develop programs for the milling machine and, later, for laser cutting. In August 2013, we purchased a new three-axis milling machine with an indexable 4th axis to expand our manufacturing capabilities. Again, we used ArtCAM for the programming.'
Despite the fact that the Theatre has mastered digital technology, the role of the designers has remained central to the process of creating each new set of scenery. Before staging a new opera, artists and modellers use AutoCAD to create from paper sketches detailed models at a 1:20 scale of each scene in the production and all of its scenery.
Production of these models is a very complex and time-consuming task as they must contain all the fine details that will appear in the final full-scale designs. In addition, the designer must take into account not only the aesthetic aspects but also the technical requirements to allow a change of scenery during the production, and to provide a sequence of assembly and disassembly for transport and storage.
The results of the work of designers and technologists are two-dimensional vector drawings, with an accompanying description of each part. The data is then transmitted digitally to ArtCAM so the programmer can develop an efficient layout of the various elements in the block of material and create the programs for the CNC router.
Once the director of the production has approved the scenery designs, they are produced at full scale. This is one of the main advantages of the digital approach since the 1:20 CAD model can be resized quickly to the size to be used in the Theatre. Similarly, ArtCAM makes it easy to duplicate parts of the design or to create their mirror copies.
These techniques mean the new scenery can be produced much more quickly. Even more importantly, the CNC router and ArtCAM have reduced significantly the financial costs of creating scenery and so allowed the Mariinsky Theatre to recoup the cost of purchasing the equipment many times over.