Was a great challenge on Bright Lights Big City to incorporate three projectors , the theory was there but the practice of rigging two above the set proved a little trickier. A lot learned and to be carried forwards but loved the creativity it allowed me especially in the final scene, where my design was to be the feature as the lead character Michael begins to type and reflect on his journey.Working in what is quickly becoming one of my favourite software’s Adobe’s powerful After Effects, I created and animated word drop with a fabulous typeface I discovered AlbertSthal Typewriter. The director Graham gave me the freedom to develop the concept, seeing it for the first time in tech was nerve wracking ! with a little tweak on timing working with my assistant 1st year LIPA TPT student Matthew Wane we ran it again and it worked in perfect timing with the final number. We ran the footage in slightly different sizes and positions through the two Panasonic projectors over the set and a Christie positioned front of house to cover the floor and frontal aspects of the set. Many thanks to Brian Roberts for the clip
So my final year sets off at a relentless pace in my role of video designer for the big first show of the year, an epic rock musical “Bright Lights Big City” directed by Graham Hubbard
The first meeting about this was in July with set designer Rebecca McGrory and costume designer Rachael Noonan also fellow final year students. It was very apparent from the get go that this production would feature video and projection heavily , so much so the set was to have huge side portals for just this purpose. In this post I am going to focus on the search for resources and collection material for projection rather than blast you lens throw calculations and other technical aspects. Important considerations as they are, without the right content it could be seen as money down the drain.
Set in the 80’s ahem yes I was there, my brief was comprehensive so where to begin? OK confession time I remember a world before google (twas a strange and dark time ) one had to look to resources in paper form or from art and TV/Film. We can so quickly now rely on this one resource to answer all our needs and indeed it is brilliant; but not always the one stop shop we have become so dependent on. Keywords and their importance to searching comes into play heavily , thinking outside the obvious to take us to other places for both footage and still images. That and the rise of the photo libraries and their all engulfing of footage in particular was to cause me some headaches on this show. Alongside this my always ultimate goal is to create as much content from scratch and my own vision as possible as hey why else would I be here? And finding enough royalty footage can become a very time consuming job and yes time is money. So here I am going to share a few brilliant resources and some ideas on where and how you can search for more interesting content past page one of google!
1) Don’t search images only! a very common mistake I see people being sucked into page after page of images which are using their own keywords to stalk you out and direct you to chargeable image banks and in truth can be much better at a loose tag to your subject than you give them credit for . Be ultra precise in your search ie : Paris by Night will indeed bring up a multitude of images and footage ( mostly royalty ) For this show I wanted ariel and a sense of being there in it’s feel so my first searches featured lines such as “ ariel nightime footage royalty free of top tourist sights in Paris at night” this instantly cuts out a batch of time wasting non royalty free stuff which on the outside to you the viewer appears so until you try to access it ( this is how the libraries work). Also look to other more art based worlds for video footage such as Vimeo rather than the be-mouth that is Youtube, here you will find fellow creative who may as on a show I did last year let you use some of their footage for a small fee ( always a good feeling to give to a fellow creative) For BLBC I was able to find some amazing drone footage that I played with in After Effects to add a little rain and extra glow to the original footage.
2) Think about the mediums you search for? By this I mean it can be footage generated by both traditional methods and that of say CGI so try adding computer generated to your search and explore other mediums. Another great tip especially when looking for period content is to add the word amateur, people have always being fascinated in capturing the world around them . With keen adventurers and hobby filming people investing in equipment and getting out there to do just that, think of the rise of the ubiquitous home movie and the rise of the video camera (pre smartphone) I found some tremendous vintage 1960’s Christmas footage for this production in just this way, nestled in a homage to American home movies archive complete with scratches and colour degeneration. Saving me time in post production which was great .
3) Some love to play and share?
This takes me to one of my most favourite resources a family of sorts and one I also add my work to . DeviantArt is an online artwork, videography and photography community. The website was launched on August 7, 2000, by Angelo Sotira, Scott Jarkoff, Matthew Stephens and others I have being a member and contributer for while and am always having a look at what others are creating , this stretches to really useful tools such as effects and brushes for use in Photoshop and other mediums to wonderful created backgrounds and a lot free to use in exchange for a credit. I used a few of these in a photographic project a few years ago with fashion stylist Nicky Rybka Goldsmith featuring trans gender burlesque avant guard performer Grace Oni Smith in our adaptation of the Four Seasons, without the creative family of Deviant Art this would of being impossible. Go join and discover an immense resource.
Everything in our sensory world plays it part, I see and think in pictures and movement, a piece of music can be the start point for a piece of work a recent example of this was a lighting installation I created for Liverpool Light Night in LIPA. Having being a huge admirer of all things Brian Eno for quite sometime I happened upon his beautiful app “Bloom” co created with software developer Peter Chilvers, together they created a place where for once our smart devices can offer a stop off at calm and with the gentlest tap and play, become ambient music composers at the same time! What is not to like there? With a choice of colour pallets included it triggered me to both share and replicate in some way a Room of Calm idea was planted.
I have always being fascinated with light in general with the last few years at LIPA distilling this to a new appreciation of the effects on people of light and colour. Which leads me to another big inspirational artist who’s work influenced this project. Olafur Eliason, who has created some of the most stunning and sometimes questioning work with colour and light and the effect this has on people engaging with them. One of his most memorable the Weather Project at Tate Modern when people began to sit and bathe in the SUN he created in the vast turbine hall
Weather Project Tate Modern 2003
His work inspirational in many ways with his strong focus on the ecological and sustainability, one of my favourite projects is the solar powered light now rolling out around the world where electricity is scarce and helping many to both work and study.
I have a great love of re-appropriating everyday objects and materials to both recycle and discover their attributes on a creative level. I knew I needed something big for the proposed space and that it must emit light in a soft and glowing way, from my photographic history worked with perspex backlit backgrounds, which transmit light in such a beautiful way. So where to find something ?
One of my clients happened to be just that and industrial plastics manufacturer ! I know the gods of fate were on my side aligned with the fact that as a bit of cheeky bugger in the approach that in if you don’t ask you will never know and you never know people may say yes! Which they did ! really interested to see what I could do with some of their huge diverse range and turn them into a three dimensional bloom! Fun with drills, strings of LED fixtures ,me and my team of helpers set about creating the Room of Calm . I had researched and created a range of colours that have being proven to lower the heart rate and aid relaxation, these moved around the installation during the 10 min performance, accompanied by a sound track of course Brian Eno a new piece called Reflection .
And then there is my custodian of the space Molly a 3rd year acting student, I wanted people to be encouraged to interact with the piece so with her gentle voice and slow actions she also occupied the space to help the public find their spot to either sit or as some did be enveloped by the light .
Many Thanks to Stamford Plastics Mailbox Division for your support
Personal thanks to Rhys Carl, Lydia Grandi, Josh Hibbert and Thomas Ashcroft for your help and the patient Theatre Technicians at LIPA
here are some links to enjoy