This research project focuses on the potential relationship between Beijing Opera (the traditional cultural heritage) and computer animation (a modern art form). It responds to the practical problem that Beijing Opera is a national treasure of China with a history of 200 years, but now it is in decline as popular entertainment. Beijing Opera (or Peking Opera) is widely regarded as the highest expression of Chinese culture, being one of the three main theatrical systems in the world. Attempts to keep this traditional cultural treasure alive have varied, including encouraging positive appreciation among young audiences and updating Beijing Opera's artistic style and performance. To further that ambition, this research explores how Beijing Opera's traditional stage performance can be adapted to a virtual stage by computer generated imagery (CGI), also known as computer animation. CGI animation has eclipsed other animation forms and has emerged as one of the most successful film-art forms (Polchat 2007). The resounding success of Toy Story, the first fully computer-generated feature film produced by Pixar (The Walt Disney Company) in 1995 and the following continuous release of breathtaking CGI films by numerous studios in the past decade, informs this project of the potential offered by CGI animation. This research report argues for the possibility of using computer animation to present Beijing Opera.
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