Tuesday 30 November 2010

SKATE - Somerset House Nov 2010

- visuals by Insight Lighting - mapping by deepvisual

modul8 saves the day

"Don't worry about it", Brendan had said at the production meeting. "The projector company (name withheld) have told us they can do it no problem". The 'it' that would be no problem was the near impossible task of aligning 2 pairs of 4 stacks of 18k (144,00 lumens) Christie HD video projectors on a building with lots of architectural features on many different planes.

Overlaying 4 projectors on the same screen is difficult enough if the screen is flat. Dealing with the parallax from extrusions and recesses may be possible to a degree with the twist cards that some Christies carry, but to do that accurately 8 times in one night???
Well as it transpired, it is possible to do it in one night - but only if the gig is in the arctic circle in winter, where the nights last two months and of course our gig is in London - so inevitably come 3am, the projectionist suddenly realises that, actually it can't be done after all.
We could have stuck to our guns and made them fix it, but that would almost certainly have ended in a failed show and even though it would be totally their fault, it would be we who would have to deal with the fall out.
So after 20 minutes of fiddling in Modul8, stretching and warping the image, I got the line up to almost perfectly match the building - our only problem being the join between the projectors in the middle laying across 3 different surfaces. If we had separate perspective distortions on each output I could have nailed it, but as it was the lineup was only about 6 inches out on one side anyway.
In our favour, the client had no interest in contemporary mapping whatsoever, so we could avoid all the cliches and have some fun with the general theme - top hat and tails.. They paid top dollar for a license to show some buzby berkley clips, so we could rob the archives with impunity.

come showtime and the damned lampies had been up one of the towers during the afternoon and rigged a light right in front of one of the projector lenses, in the process nudging the alignment out.

the projectionist managed to get all four projectors back into alignment with each other, but not with the other 4 projectors - making the left hand side of the screen 10-20 pixels out of alignment - which we didn't notice until the show was underway. never fear- just type in an offset on the advanced output and all will be fine - but of course I made an error while projecting live and lost the whole alignment and one screen disappeared completely - panic reigned, but I kept my cool and figured the whole thing out in the longest 15 seconds of this year, while I calmly faded everything out gracefully, to make it look intentional, fixed it, then faded it back in with the music...
After that Brendan, the driving force behind Insight Lighting, took over and delivered another of his inspiring visual collages made of all things Buzby.
So the potentially catastrophic failure became a roaring success - to the point where Patrick Woodroffe ( Lighting designer for the Rolling Stones) came over and gave Brendan two thumbs up for the visuals.

Central to the success of the projections was not only the mapping, but also the recreation of empty film set backdrops in photoshop. these were then used as difference mattes to remove the backgrounds from 1940s dance routines in post to allow live compositing of individual dancers.

And of course, the bright lights of the Skate arena meant that not even too many projectors would be enough...
8 x 18k Christies