The Phantom of the Opera is a musical based on the 1910 French novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux. First performed in 1986, it has become the longest-running show in musical history. Back in March 2022, the show was performed at the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, Australia. Only this time, with a slightly more contemporary touch – the Phantom of the Opera masks were 3D printed.
The Phantom’s masks were printed not out of novelty, but out of necessity. The entertainment industry, including the Phantom of the Opera musical, has faced some of the most burdensome COVID restrictions over the last 2 years. Due to changing production schedules and the availability, or unavailability, of the cast – the costume department of Opera Australia was facing an extremely tight deadline. Traditional methods of manufacturing a mask would have taken too long, and with no guarantee that they would fit the actors’ faces, comfortably. Masks were needed for actors for rehearsals, as well as for performances.
3D scanning and printing services offered by Wysiwyg 3D, part of the GoProto group, gave the costume department a streamlined solution, where necessary changes could be made digitally and 3D printed rapidly.
The Phantom’s mask was scanned using the arm-based scanner whilst the portable handheld scanners were used to 3D scan members of the cast, Josh Robson (the Phantom) and understudy, Raphael Wong. The masks were customized to suit each of the singers’ unique facial structures and also allowed room in the mask for movement and comfort.
Within a matter of days, the Phantom’s mask, and the lead singers, were 3D scanned, changes were made, digitally, to the mask to suit the individual singer, and the files were sent to the Wysiwyg 3D in-house print team. The prototypes were delivered to Opera Australia, ready for testing during the weekend rehearsals. Design changes were made following the rehearsals – including reducing the weight and addressing fitment issues. Multiple copies of the Phantom’s mask were printed using MJF, sanded smooth, and primed before the final coat of paint was applied. MJF was chosen for its durability and its suitability for outside performances.
The costume team was happy with the final result and was then able to focus their attention on the other aspects of the costume design.