The biggest technical challenge for the projection system on Lucky Guy was the forced-perspective ceiling above the set. Projection designer Robin Silvestri points out, “We project on the center of the ceiling, and that ceiling articulates into three different positions. The first position is as a flat ceiling; then it drops down at an angle for a particular scene at the NY Post newsroom; and then it lowers to a vertical position to become a backdrop for a scene at the end of Act One. It was a bit of a technical challenge, since the projectors are sitting on the balcony rail, and we had to be able to focus them so they would work on the ceiling in three different positions.”
Lars Pedersen from projection eqiupment supplier WorldStage agrees that the ceiling panel was tricky. “In its default position, it actually lays almost parallel to the stage floor, at like a 15º tilt," he says. "It then moves to a 45º angle to the audience, and in one scene, it lowers and is where you’d normally want it, which is perpendicular to the projectors. Two Christie DS+10K-M 10K projectors are used to hit the ceiling, located at middle of the balcony, positioned side by side. They are converged together for maximum brightness and redundancy.”
Since the team had selected to use Dataton Watchout for the playback, they took advantage of a feature that allowed them to correct the geometry so a certain part of the raster would actually fit on the ceiling surface. “There was a lot of geometry warping and mapping that Bill Lyons, the Watchout programmer, and Lars figured out," says Silvestri. "The fact that we were able to technically figure out how to warp and map the imagery on that forced perspective ceiling in three different positions was actually pretty critical to the show, as it became more of a key projection element than we had initially anticipated.”
The Watchout system is controlled through the lighting console via MIDI cues. Silvestri is comfortable with this solution because, she says, “The show has a great console operator, Chris Kurtz. He worked on Ghost, so he has a lot of video experience and has been very helpful keeping everything tweaked and lined up. He also maintains the projectors, the focus, the video wall, the calibration and all that stuff.”
To make life easier for the lighting operator, Pedersen offered up a custom control interface that’s based on a Coolux Widget Designer Pro system. “The Widget Designer system gives quick access to a back-up scenario with the playback system," Pedersen says. "The operator can quickly recall a particular show file within Watchout. Raul [Herrera, a WorldStage technology specialist and programmer] created a user interface that provides instant recall and loading of sub shows in case an understudy goes onstage. The Widget Designer system also allows for manual control of the projection system including the shutters.”
In terms of the support she received, Silvestri says, “I had not worked with SenovvA before, and they were great in supplying and supporting the LED video wall. I first worked with Lars back in 1988, and he never lets us down, and with WorldStage, well needless to say, they were fantastic. It is important to have confidence in a supplier, which I do in WorldStage.”
Silvestri notes the only thing missing on opening night was the playwright herself. “It was just a shame that Nora couldn’t see this, because I think that she would be very proud of what we all did and what we all accomplished."