With all the best intentions in the world to keep this blog updated Ive let it slip and haven’t posted much for the past few month and there’s allot to catch up on! So after Richard Slaney asking me for an update here we go, lets go in chronological order starting with Bluebeard Sanfansisco:
BLUEBEARD, SAN FRANSISCO June-2012
On the back of last years mini tour of the Philharmonias production of Bluebeard’s castle we were invited to stage the whole show again at Davids Symphony hall, San Fransisco. This was the first time we had done it since November (I think) last year. Sticking with the theme of Bluebeard technically not being one of the easiest gigs, here we had 6, yes SIX HD20 Barco Projectors because of the size of the set and also, because we could. Lining 6 projectors up onto a set with varying surfaces of different focal points was never going to be an easy thing, and we had spoke about this numerous times beforehand thinking of alternative ways, and different projector configurations on how to do this. In the end Nickin pulled the rabbit out of the hat and spent a long time using the internal warp boards in the projectors to pull the focal point of each projector into alignment on each surface, bloody good work man!
We didn’t have allot of time to setup, lineup, and remember how to use the Chamsys again after what felt like such a long gap. Coupled with the rather strict American union rules, where we would have worked through breaks to get the job done here back in England, our breaks and hours we could work each day were fixed and limited. We did however manage to get everything setup and running for rehearsals, it felt like we were all swimming upstream against the tide for many hours the first few days but as usual it all came together with enough time to play and for me to put pictures of everyone on the set, which helped with our sanity levels at that time!
Opening night came and i think we had a full house, everyone seemed to enjoy the show and the whole concept with the projected visuals, moving set, opera and orchestra fused together this way. There were quite a few audience members came up to myself and Nickin at the operating position saying it was wonderful and asking how we did it.
During the run we had some troubles with the automation provided by a company who shall remain unnamed where we completely lost one of the automated axis for part of the moving set. It would have been nice to have spares and Steve spent rather a large amount on calling the UK for “support”
All in all it was a good version of Bluebeard’s Castle and it was great to have the whole team back together again. One or twice we did get a limo provided by the venue, below is Rich Nick and Nickin pimping it up just before a camp night in the pub as it was the evening before pride!
The following day Steve and myself decided to head into the centre of town to see what happened at Pride in San Fransisco. This day Steve decided to shave his beard leaving a classic village people style tasch and a local policeman whas more than happy to have his picture taken with the famous Barco Ninja (Steve)
Ten Billion London-Avignon
Literally a few days after getting back from San Fransisco I was straight onto the next job, video programming 10 Billion, a new show with a scientest called Stephen Emmott directed by Katie Mitchel and Video by Tim Reid associate of Fiftynine Productions. I met Tim at the offices in Hoxton where he was trying ideas in a model-box set before we loaded in and setup projectors etc at the Royal court in the following couple of days. The show itself was less of a theater production but more of a lecture/talk about the worlds population continuing to increase at a vast rate and how we as humans are having an impact on the environment around us. There’s a better interview with Stephen in the Guardian here.
We eventually got in to the royal court and i met everyone and figured out how the hell to get our projectors into place in such a little theater space. You never know what its going to be like when going to a new theater with new people but i was pleased that tey are genuinely such a good bunch of people at the Royal Court.
Above: Tim Working hard at his laptop
I cant exactly remember how long we all had to setup, tech rehearse the show but i do remember tat it wasn’t very much time at all! Also it was the first time i had used the ETC Ion so it was a bit of a baptism of fire to get up to speed on this with such a limited technical period too. God knows how much time i spent at the control position pictured below but i think we all went a little stir cray at some point!
It was fun working with Tim and i could see he was right up against it given the time constraints. Many ideas were tried, some stayed and some didn’t, id like to work together with Tim again sometime with more than 2 days to tech a show from scratch!
This was part of my pre-show checks, before every show, maling sure the projectors were in focus, pointing at the correct part and that the catalyst keystone mix lineups were in the right place! Oh memories!
Following on from doing previews of the show in London we then took it to the Avignon festival where it was presented at a brilliant old theater space called Chartreuse de Villeneuve, converted from an old monastery. We had allot of fun here and had one or two bloody mary’s on some of the days pictured below.
Giles, Pippa, Stephen & Dan making drinks.
Tariq, Katie, Dan, Mark and myself also went and took in some of the festival atmosphere after our show and ended up in the “Dancing Room” at the festival bar. This was such a brilliant night and we all danced like idiots for a good couple of hours. Below is Dan doing the classic windmill move.
10Billion was a hard show to start off with, averaging 14hours a day for the first week even during previews but I’m so glad i was working with the people I was. So much infact I decided to make some thank you cards which also folded up into a tiny model of the set!
The card unfolded
Rings of Colour
During 10Billion being performed at the royal court the whole Olympics was going on. I had been working at Stage One earlier in the year as part of the technical team designing some of the hardware and specifying part of the automation infrastructure. A good friend Karl was in town at the time and he invited me along to come and help out (see) the control center for the rings on London bridge. It was pretty cool to be up to the top of one of the towers. Stage One provided the rings and the lifting mechanism as well as the custom weather alert system programmed by Karl which gave constant updates on weather around the bridge via text and email to the main operators. In the event of high winds the rings would be lifted horizontal for safety.
Its always nice and pretty cool to get invited to places like this and see the views.
also during 10Billion, the day we arrived back from Avignon was the opening ceremony. Megan (my fine lady) was working as assistant to the video director for 59Productions and we were both invited to 59′s studios in Hoxton to watch the opening ceremony with many other people who had been involved too. We both had had some sort of high end involvement and it was pretty nerver racking watching this knowing our friends were inside the stadium pushing the important buttons and making sure it all worked!
In the end it did all work and it was a bloody brilliant show, we left Hoxton pretty pissed and relieved that night, a great end to a long few weeks!
Friends at the Proms
One Sunday by good friends and partners in crime were also pushing the buttons at the Wallace and Grommit’s Musical marvels at the proms in the Albert hall. Nick Hillel got us in to see it and we met Steve and Iain pictured below, who had all had a long morning of rehearsals and technical surprises! It was a fun show to see and great to catchup with some friends.
Iain on the buttons.
Following a busy year for the Re-Rite Kit, from a long stint in China and then another long stint in a dusty old disused tobacco factory in Turkey it was due for an overhaul and some hardware improvements to make the installs quicker and easier!
It was ace to finally have some time in the Philharmonia’s new warehouse space to get the whole kit out, clean off the the dust accumulated after a busy 18 month! It was a good few days with the kit prepped and packed ready for 2013 wich looks to be a busy one already!
Media Player Custom Plates
Earlier this year working with Steve Holmes we installed Universe of Sound, a large synchronised video instalaltion for the Philharmonia orchestra. As a progression and improvement for the next install I designed a custom plate and mounting method for the media plates used in the install. Below is the prototype incorporating the projector mount, media player and projector in one unit.
The final production units were anodised black and the overall height was reduced to the previous versions. the whole unit sits in a flight-case fully plugged up with the hanging bracket already attached so on the next install it will dramatically reduce installation time.
ARTAV Isaac Julien Copenhagen
Mid August i did a job for ArtAV at GLStrand in Copenhagen installing a 1 screen video piece for artist Issac Julien.
It was quite a straight forward instal but had to be incredibly precise with the focus and projector position as we were using one of ArtAV’s custom borderless screens (pretty).
After a good long day and a bit assembling the screen, mounting the 5:1 surround system, and projector, and then making the cabling invisible, it was pretty slow and precise going but was the only way. The colour balance was important and ended up having a long phone conversation with Isaac explaining how he likes it to be saturated.
I had a few hours to pass in Copenhagen after the install was complete and Jon from GlStrand recommended i went to Christiania, a huge hippy area in the centre of Copenhagen. I highly recommend it, its a pretty cool chilled out area, and this poster below pretty much sums it up, if you find yourself in Copenhagen, go visit this place.
Finally I booked a holiday for me and Megs to Vancouver, we went all over the city, hired a silly little sports car and drove to Whistler, and met up with some old friends living out there.
Also on our wanders around the city Megs discovered Vancouvers answer to Charity Peter. This was a great break after an already busy year for both of us!
Berwick Film & Media Festival
And finally, at the end of this, MEGA (thinned down) catchup, I spent a couple of days with Steve, I’ve worked with steve allot this year, working on Berwick Film and Media festival. One of the taking installs was a 24Screen syncronised video piece by Jason Dee with was pretty nice. Below is Steve debugging and getting the playback system to work FRAME ACCURATE!!
So thats the end of my mega catchup, I’d like to think that im going to keep ontop of this blog again and not let stuff slip so much but to be honest it may be a week, a month of even 3 month before I repost, We’ll See!