Bolshoi Theater Produces En Pointe Performances Using NVIDIA Technology

by Emily Bryce

When it comes to theater productions, the devil is in the details.

Dancers, musicians and actors push themselves to the limit to deliver extraordinary performances. And behind the curtain, orchestra pit and tutus, multitudes of artists and technicians work on bringing art to life.

Much of their effort is defining the stage with set pieces, lighting, props and more. But before the curtain opens, production teams map it all out using digital 3D models. This process takes months and the collaboration of numerous teams.

To enhance the set design process, Moscow’s famed Bolshoi Theater developed an internal cloud service, based on NVIDIA Quadro Virtual Data Center Workstation (Quadro vDWS). This enables teams from multiple locations to work together on stage plans without meeting face to face.

The cloud service also allows the Bolshoi to deliver breathtaking performances when they are touring the globe. Every stage, lighting rig and theater set-up is unique to each location, so the set design needs to be adjusted accordingly. Thanks to the cloud, touring teams can work hand-in-hand with those based in Moscow and save valuable time.

Setting the Scene

As Act I begins, the first impression audiences get is shaped by the stage design. It sets the tone for the performance, creating multiple environments, sightlines, and entrance and exit points for the performers.

To get this right, the Bolshoi creates 3D models of the stage, using CAD applications. Designers and technicians use these to map lighting, props and block positions. They also can play with  configurations and adapt quickly to directorial changes.

“Plans can change at the very last moment,” said Roman Ulizko, the Bolshoi’s chief information officer. “That’s why it’s important for us to provide a flexible and reliable IT infrastructure to back up the creative process.”

Creating these models requires the collaboration of multiple expert teams. For the Bolshoi, they’re centered in Moscow, with support from teams across Russia. Previously, supervisors, carrying miniservers, had to travel between locations to coordinate these teams. Today, the internal cloud services eliminates the need for travel, providing access to the digital projects from any place, at any time.

“We work with multiple teams of experts, so we wanted them to be able to work collaboratively on projects from any location, at any time, with an excellent user experience,” said Ulizko. “NVIDIA Quadro Virtual Data Center Workstation technology lets us set up a single, flexible IT infrastructure with dynamic resource distribution.”

Based on a combination of NVIDIA P40 GPUs, Quadro vDWS software and VMware Horizon, the service supports 44 virtualized desktops for professional applications.

In the future, the team hopes to expand this number to up to 200 users, enabling even more efficient set design workflows.

From Stage to Silver Screen

Graphics virtualization isn’t the only NVIDIA technology that the Bolshoi has used.

Since 2011, the theater has broadcast ballet performances to movie theaters around the globe. To ensure these are of the highest quality, the Bolshoi uses NVIDIA-based hardware encoding to support the graphically intense streams.



Photo courtesy of the Bolshoi Theater – Premiere of Don Quixote Ballet. Maria Alexandrova appears as Kitri. Photo by Damir Yusupov/Bolshoi Theater.