Mariinsky Theatre invests in Catalyst for Ring Cycle

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UK Catalyst distributor SNP Productions has supplied 3 top spec Catalyst v4 PRO media servers in custom SNP designed Catalyst system flightcases to the Mariinsky Theatre from St Petersburg for their acclaimed production of Wagner's Ring Cycle.

The company - under the artistic direction of Valery Gergiev - performs all four operas in Das ring des Nibelungen on consecutive evenings at the Royal Opera House in London this week. In this latest staging of the production (first seen complete in 2003) projection has been added as a key visual element.

SNP's Simon Pugsley built and supplied the fully configured Catalyst system complete with a remote KVM (keyboard-video-mouse) monitoring solution which was a crucial requirement in projection designer Sven Ortel from Mesmer's specification. Ortel - who has used Catalyst on many previous projects, wanted a flexible 'plug & play' touring solution. The package, which has been purchased by the Theatre with a view to using video in their future work, also included Cat 5 cabling, fibre links and RGBHV distribution.

The set, designed by George Tsypin, is dominated by 4 monumental sculptures of giants, surrounded by 3 walls. Projections are used to bring the giants to life and integrate them into the stage action and dramaturgy of the Ring in this bold and controversial production of the work.

Two Barco 18K projectors are positioned at FOH and fed by one Catalyst system, with 4 Barco DLM digital moving lights positioned on the proscenium bridge, driven by the other two. Running on 44 video layers in total they project special effects, texturing and movement, plus literal elements like fire, water, lightening etc. onto the floor, set and giants, all of which needed careful masking - which was easy to achieve using Catalyst.

Another key requirement was to have the ability to work exceedingly fast, which was another reason Ortel chose Catalyst. For the ROH production, they had just 5 days to tech 15 and a half hours of opera - a more standard timescale is 2 weeks for each Cycle!

This latest production opened in St Petersburg earlier in July, and again due to the incredibly gruelling production schedule, Ortel and his team evolved the video content freestyle, using a lot of grabbing, programming and editing on-the-fly, techniques more akin to VJ'ing in operational style than plotting a traditional opera or theatre show. For Ortel, this was an exhilarating and stimulating way to work which really produced results, but would have been "impossible" to achieve without Catalyst.

An MA Lighting grandMA full size control desk was used to programme and is triggering the Catalyst servers which are located near the different projection positions at FOH and onstage.

ArtNet, KVM and network distribution is achieved using Cat 5 looms to each Catalyst server from the FOH control position. A 6U rack houses gigabit switches and KVM receivers FOH, with the KVM transmitters built in to each Catalyst System flightcase. Video signals are distributed locally by RGBHV (to the Barco DML projectors) and via DVI fibre from FOH to the projectors. Two of the new Artistic Licence Etherlynx II devices are utilised for ArtNet to DMX conversion to the DML's SNP Custom DVI & VGA output panel.

Each Catalyst server has local mouse keyboard and 24 inch LCD screen. Output to the KVM is scaled by a TV-One 1T-VS-558 Analogue-Digital Cross converter Scaler, to enable remote viewing on 6 x 17 inch LCDs, mouse and Keyboard, located at the FOH control position.

The Catalyst system was supplied fully flightcased by SNP. The 3 Catalyst v4 PRO servers in their special system flightcases, the six 24 inch LCDs in dual flightcases, with the 6 x 17 inch LCDs in dual inserts, that fit neatly inside the main Catalyst system flightcases. "The ROH crew were extremely impressed by the new Catalyst racks," reports Ortel, adding that the service from SNP is "excellent".

SNP also supplied 2 cable trunks and the 1 x 6U FOH control rack. The whole system was tested and configured in the UK before being shipped to St Petersburg prior to opening of the revamped production.

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