“Technical tools and approaches, as well as artistic choices about the style of imagery, ultimately shape the look and feel of an entire production,” says projection designer Sven Ortel, a featured speaker at the Broadway Projection Master Classes on Monday, May 21 at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
"Image mapping and tracking are tools that are used more and more on Broadway and elsewhere," says Ortel. "That is partly because they have become sophisticated and adapt to the applications designers are dreaming up.
Software and hardware solutions to both mapping and tracking are numerous and it's easy to becomes dazzled or confused by the array of what's on offer.
"However the most important question for me as a designer is why I should use tracking or mapping in my design in the first place and in what way on a particular job," Ortel explains. "The answer to the 'why?' and 'how?' will inevitably explain the basic concept of the projection design and also considerably narrow down the available solutions."
Ortel has used tracking and mapping in various ways on the last three Broadway shows he designed and on the Off-Broadway show Carrie. "Each design has informed the next," he notes. "Therefore I will use the most recent Newsies to explain basic technique and thinking about tracking and mapping from a designer's perspective."
Last season for Wonderland, Ortel collaborated closely with lighting designer Paul Gallo. “We sat close to one another during tech, and spent a lot of time matching colors and tone for each scene, as a lot of the scenery is projected,” notes Ortel. “I usually went first for the book scenes, and Paul usually went first for the songs. We worked really well together, it was a nice fluid process.”
“I also spent a lot of time liaising with the scenic designer, Neil Patel,” Ortel adds. “For example, I projected mirrors that matched the shape of a real mirror that was built, so they looked uniform. I had a close artistic relationship with Neil on this show—the lighting came later. In this case a lot of my imagery was scenic.”