Bob and Colleen Bonniol, projection designers and principals in MODE Studios, are also the creative consultants for the second annual Live Design Projection Master Classes to be held November 14 & 15, 2007 in conjunction with LDI2007 in Orlando, FL. They are leaders in the projection field, on the cutting edge of the image game, and are also participating in LDI's "Spend The Day With..." on Sunday, November 17, when a small group of attendees get to network with Bob and Colleen and take of tour of new technology on the show floor with them. With LDI just six weeks away, livedesignonline checks in with “The Bonniols” for an exclusive update on the world of projection today.
1. What's happening in terns of new trends, new techniques, new technologies?
Perhaps the most important thing happening is that the technologies on the market are shaking out and becoming more accessible. This accessibility is two fold. The popular media servers, projectors, and LED products are becoming cheaper by the moment, allowing designers who couldn't budget for that stuff new freedom to utilize it. The other accessibility is in the interfaces and control methodologies. Some of the more advanced functions, things like scenic mapping, pixel mapping, screen blending etc, are becoming much simpler to achieve. You don't have to be a mathematician or computer scientist to try that stuff anymore. Interfaces on the media servers are becoming more intuitive. As an industry we are benefiting from the technological race that the gaming business and personal computer manufacturers are engaged in. The raw horsepower of new off-the-shelf computers are putting extraordinary media manipulation capabilities in the hands of the 'common man' so to speak. This means that VJ's are out doing shows with complex media and signal path scenarios that even a couple of years ago would have demanded rigs costing five figures. Far more importantly, it is making the toolsets available to the educational sector.
Technologically, companies like Element Labs and Barco are making giant strides in research and production of fresh new stuff for designers to create new and unique things. Boring, but critical elements like rigging aspects and control distribution are getting slick and advanced. This is a major move forward. Certain products out there have looked great, but have proved completely untenable for applications like touring. This is changing profoundly.
2. What is the status of projection VS digital lighting?
Differentiation is becoming clearer here. We think we can confidently say that a new diversity in digital lights is going to happen in the very near term, now that the initial, unfortunate litigation phase is out of the way. Also, there are LED and projection products that are most appropriately called digital scenery at this point. Luminescent, textural, and structural. In the more classic application of projection design, incredibly powerful, bright, and quiet projectors are coming out. This is allowing designers more flexibility in where they can put units. It's no longer necessary to build enormous, ventilated structures to baffle projectors on a balcony rail or box boom for instance. Advances in optics are allowing projectors to have shorter throw distances and sharper, more beautiful imagery. And these tools are becoming more understandable to many LDs out there who are just now beginning to experiment with it. And young designers and students are grasping and using these tools without a second thought. They've grown up with X-Box and giant FX driven feature films. They fully expect to bring these advanced sensibilities to design.
3. What projects are you working on now and what are the challenges?
We've been working on the initial development stages of Julie Taymor's new Spiderman The Musical. The ambition to utilize new groundbreaking technologies on that show is great, and it's got us quite excited. The diversity of different parts of the business that a designer can move around in is exhilarating. In the last year we've designed a new opera, a major stadium rock tour, a country tour, a huge installation for Nokia at CES, and a whole bunch of smaller art, dance, and live music projects. We're also discussing some really exciting new projects that are happening at the regional theatre level. It's no longer the case that a designer is pigeon- holed into one sector. New technologies are absolutely enabling this.
4. How have LED projection surfaces changed the face of projection design?
As we discussed, LED has gone way beyond the simple application of image magnification, and entered a realm where they are being utilized as light sources, and as scenic structure. This blending of disciplines is leading to shows that are enormously cohesive in terms of color, texture, vibrancy, and excitement. The audience expectation is growing every minute, and we have the tools to answer those expectations.
5. What's exciting about the Live Design Projection Master Classes this year?
The word is out...The Live Design Projection Master Classes at LDI are really generating excitement now. We've got the world's best manufacturers, designers, and technicians sharing their expertise. There's no comparable experience for immediate and comprehensive exposure to the widest range of products and how to use them.
For additional information about LDI2007 click here.