Posts tagged “Virtual theater design

IU Opera Akhnaten

Indiana University’s outstanding Opera department teamed up with the Indianapolis Opera to produce Philip Glass’ masterpiece “Akhnaten”, a first in many ways for opera in the midwest. It was the first time the collegiate program has staged a Glass opera, it was the first time a Glass opera has been seen in Indianapolis, and it was the first time I got to lay my hands on the venerable Barco FLM 22+. There’s an excellent article over at NUVO- worth a read…but I’ll focus mainly on the projection. I’m a huge Philip Glass fan (occasionally OD’ing on the Qatsi trilogy is a fave pastime) so I was stoked when I learned I would be the tip-of-the-spear for an actual production in the 30th anniversary year of the seminal work. For the last week I’ve been hunkered down at PFHQ breathing 98 degree air- sitting behind two of these behemoth DLP projectors. The rig was originally designed to have both projectors doing different things, but with the shot from our venue slightly (!) different than the original presenting venue, we decided to converge and let ‘em rip.


I know, you’ll all want to see gorgeous panoramic displays of the actual imagery, but all I had time for was the down-and-dirty tech porn. Sorry- you’ll just have to find it on Youtube. Playback was achieved with HogPC software on a laptop feeding Artnet to the PJ’s and to another machine (a beefy Dell Precision) running Arkaos MediaMaster Pro. Mike Schwandt was kind enough to cue the show with a Hog Playback wing, so the run was super easy and quite accurate. We shot about 120′ onto a tight-weave white scrim for an image roughly 50′w x 32′h. There were a few unique shapes…one was the scrim flown out to a trim of about 8′h x full width for a scrolling Book of the Dead. Another was an open, unfocused nebula during a Firefly effect that was quite pretty. All in all it was a piece of cake and the IU Opera was great to work with. Hope to do it again someday!

Stay tuned in May when the IO presents The Flying Dutchman, heavy on the projection!

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Northland Church Battle of the Bands 2012

I’ve been really looking into the whole cost/quality axiom that plagues projection and set design. I work at a theatre so I see this problem daily- it’s a business that is constantly running up against more for less. I just ran an article on Tom Beg, a graduate student who overcame this conundrum with a few good ideas and some relatively inexpensive gear. I also featured the Indianapolis Opera a while back using nothing but white canvas panels and readily available VJ/DJ software (Modul8, Madmapper, PF faves). With the following, it looks like Steven Hall and crew at the Northland Church have achieved a pretty decent end result with an eye towards cost as well.

Every year Northland church hosts the Battle of the Bands, and this year they wanted to step up the look of the stage by using projectionmapping. You’d think “pricey” right off the bat, but with a little elbow grease and some good ideas they pulled off a great looking stage.


For a BOB format, you need flexibility to keep things fresh. For projection they used two DL2′s FOH and utilized the on-board AXON media servers to fire content. These units, while not exceptionally bright, are readily available and relatively inexpensive to rent (and buy for that matter). The units were controlled from a lighting console via DMX, and they used the collage blend mode in a 2×1 to cover the stage. The screens are where the big creativity came in- using simple 2×4 construction covered in white muslin, they were able to suspend these from their upstage truss. Then, using simple masks (created in Paint.net) they were able to separate each shape onto a different layer, letting them create all kinds of looks. Check out his blog for some video and more pictures!

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Tigrelab Talk Show Set Mapping

In what is, perhaps, not so much “videomapping” as “audio-reactive virtual set design”, TV3 produced two very special interviews featuring the scientist and broadcaster Eduard Punset and the presenter and humourist Andreu Buenafuente. The programmes, which generated considerable expectation and required a significant investment, consisted of conversations between Punset and Buenafuente about a range of issues concerning everyday life set against a video mapping projection of almost 100 m2. Tigrelab was chosen to develop the contents of the backdrop, an audiovisual “wall” 24 metres wide and 3.5 metres high. This reactive and continuously changing scene allowed the two men to continue to talk comfortably whilst they were taken from place to place…from a modernist library, to a New York building, to being surrounded by a futurist mesh created using images of codes.

Words like love, city, brain, future formed the basis of the production that was accompanied by live conversation. A total of 20 different spaces were created. The programme was recorded in front of a studio audience for subsequent broadcast, allowing Buenafuente and Punset to talk freely whilst the producer “transported” them to different scenes based on where their conversation took them. Tigrelab proposed an audio-reactive backdrop developed by WeLoveCode using Processing. The system was reactive, allowing for the images to change depending on what was being said. This broke new ground in the field of interactive set design for television. The image was divided into two parts that were connected to left-right stereo audio, one side for each of the participants.The technical department created the montage for the projection and management of the video mapping using three Barco FLM 20K HD projectors and the WatchOut 5 program, offering considerable flexibility to the producer. While ‘green-screen’ technology has been around forever, I love that this concept flips that idea completely around…

Com va la vida, Video Mapping TV3 from Tigrelab on Vimeo.

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