There’s been some attention in the New York theatre news recently about Eyeliner, a 3D projection system being utilized in 3 Legged Dog’s (3LD) production of Losing Something. Live Design covered its application at the Grammys to allow Madonna to perform alongside the Gorillaz, (LD, April 2006). Eyeliner also has a brief video/write up of Madonna's performance online. Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take a walk-through of the system with 3LD’s director Kevin Cunningham and Mikael Fock from Vision.4, the Danish firm that holds the rights to implementation of the system.

The system doesn’t suffer upon closer examination. The effects are consistent across perspectives, and the perception of depth is amazing. During my visit, Fock talked of multiple system applications creating the possibilities of near-infinite depth.

Needless to say, as a designer I am absolutely ecstatic about this technologically sophisticated version of an old Victorian magic trick. What an elegant method of solving the old problem of how to create a virtual reality-type experience without the limiting and alienating use of goggles. A stretched mirror-like film has opened up new horizons in the projection designer’s art.

The system isn’t without its limitations: the geometry of projector, film, and observer must be carefully planned, and the image suffers slightly from the imperfections of the projectors currently available (in terms of contrast ratio and video black). The use of high-end, high-resolution LED displays might lessen some of those effects. But with experimentation and further elegant applications of fairly simple concepts, I’m sure Vision.4 and the Eyeliner system will bring a new magic to the stage experience.