Indianapolis Opera Projectionmapping Faust

For the first time in the Indianapolis Opera’s history, projectionmapping is playing center stage. The past few seasons have seen projection playing a larger role in the repertoire, but this is the first time mapping has had a role. Gounod’s Faust, directed and designed by Joachim Schamberger, tells the tale of an aging scholar who trades his time in hell for earthly pleasures he’s missed out on. Schamberger, who’s previous projection designs were Tosca and Das Rheingold, has stepped up the projection role to a much higher level. I can’t tell you much about the actual opera itself, but I can tell you about the technical end:

For Faust, Joachim had 7 panels built (McGuire Scenic), various widths at 24′ high, that move on traveller tracks thus dividing the space into multiple planes. The panels are skinned in bright white and make absolutely pristine projection surfaces. In order to get the right perspective for sizing, he first used a camera view from the projection booth in Vectorworks to create the various scenes with line drawings. This gave a pretty good approximation of the angles, height, and space to be projected on. He then set about compiling the projection playback materiel using Photoshop and Final Cut. The resulting footage was then rendered in Final Cut at HDV 1920×1080 MPEG2. This presented a slight codec/bandwidth problem because the plan was to use VDMX and Syphon through Madmapper in order to size the scenes accurately. HDV and Mpeg2 are not the most friendly codec for playback through any software based system and the Radeon 2600HD cards in the trusty OctoMacPro were a bit under the task. Instead, I re-rendered the content, pared down the length of most of the clips, and packaged them all in PJPEG Quicktime movies. We ultimately decided on using Modul8 because of it’s extreme ease of clip organization, playback capabilities, and tight integration with Madmapper. All the content is played back via a FW800 1TB RAID 0. Viola- nary a burp in speed or smoothness. Because of the overall linearity of the set pieces, Madmapper proved to be invaluable. Joachim came up with a few templates of primitives that could be applied to many scenes and using presets, we were able to match the pieces exactly as seen in perspective. I used a Macbook Pro 17″ (quad i7, 16gb RAM), fed into an ImagePro, which fed a DVI DA and finally two DPI Lightning 35hd’s. The resultant image quality and brightness was astounding from 135′. Lensing provided by the good folks at Nationwide (thanks James!).

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