Studio City, CA
Beaudry Interactive will always have its roots in live performance. And every once in a while it's good to go back to school to get our bearings. High school in this case. For the past few years we've helped out our good friend, Cynthia Winter, with her annual Dance Concert at Harvard Westlake High School. We are mainly there to help with music and sound design and a bit of media content, however each year we try to sneak in a little magic. The kids get to play with some cutting edge performance tech, and we get a chance to play with some new ideas and work with some awesome and talented performers. The extra challenge, as is the case with any high school production, is being creatively frugal with both time and money without sacrificing the quality of the production.
For 2016, the production was a series of interpretive dances based on the bookCharlie and the Chocolate Factory. The stage was washed with two projectors, one covering the actors themselves and another providing scenic support upstage. The scenic support was used to provide a little bit of life to the otherwise static set via animations as well as reinforce scene changes with new thematic elements (as shown in the images to the left). The projection across the actors was used to provide a projection mapping technique that enabled props to become mobile projection surfaces used for the "TV Room" dance number. This is shown in the video clip above. Dancers were not required to adhere to any specific zones, or tech-driven choreography. The entire stage was tracked allowing the screens to always find their mark while the motions of the performers remained natural and fluid. Dancers could even cross in front of the screens without worry, since the system would automatically mask the projection to prevent projecting on a performer. These systems were provided via a small network of cue controlled playback devices, props containing embedded (lo-)tech for tracking, and a computer vision system that was set-up and calibrated with the projection system within minutes.
As is the case of any live production, the show was about the performers, not the tech, and as such the technical elements provided are subtle and used sparingly. The trick was to blend away these features so that they were neither expected nor jarring to the experience when utilized. The elements simply faded into use and then just as naturally disappeared, never breaking the rhythm of the show.