Michael Kohler, a technology specialist at Scharff Weisberg, is also the creator of the iPhone/iPad app, ProjectorCalc, one of Live Design’s Projection Products of the Year. He is participating on a panel with designer Sven Ortel at the Broadway Projection Master Classes on Monday, May 23. Live Design chats with Kohler:
How did you get involved with projections?
I got involved in projection in school when our lighting department bought two Hippotizers. I spent some time teaching myself how to use them and eventually became comfortable with them and used them on a few school shows. I never really thought of it as a career path until I met the people at Scharff Weisberg and became an intern. I learned a ton about video and projection and have been doing video ever since. I have a background in theatre lighting and computer programming, so this works out well for me.
What are your day-to-day duties at Scharff Weisberg?
As a technology specialist, we focus on making the computers in shows work within a system. Sometimes we use media servers, other times we work on the computers in interactive exhibits. It’s sort of a cross between being a lighting programmer and an IT administrator, where every piece of the puzzle has to connect to each other and function in a specific way.
Can you talk a little about your collaborations with Sven Ortel?
I’ve worked with Sven on a few productions now, as the video programmer for Women on the Verge... as well as a secondary automation-tracking programmer for Wonderland. With Wonderland, we knew early on that he wanted to make the system do things we had not done before so we spent quite a bit of time talking about what the system needed to do and what the best way to achieve his goals would be. We started with descriptions of the effects he wanted to create and from there, the show's programmer and I worked out the best way to setup the system so that the effect was usable in a production setting.