Convergence is what's happening, especially as labor costs and manpower costs go up, up, up. In the 1900s at Drury Lane, there were famous pantomimes every year, with 500 people backstage, including 40 men under a canvas cloth to create a stormy sea. Labor was cheap, but that was the last great era of theatre. There were train crashes and sinking troop ships and a man called Sensation Smith who came in just to stage spectacular scenes. In classical European theatre in France and Italy there used to be a separation of acting space and upstage scenic space where there were magical landscapes, gods, romance, and mystery.
Then movies took over the spectacular effects. Cinema came from the theatre in spades, and took the best talent away as there was so much more money to be made. After 100 years, it's payback time: the movies should give back to the theatre. Software like Cinema 4D lets you do 90% of what Hollywood can do. There is a learning curve, but it's easy if you have a background in Adobe Photoshop®.
Theatre needs to capture a younger audience that is used to a rich visual experience. Projection is a way to do that. There are also budget constraints. Scenery is being cut back and projections can solve that problem.
This might create a stir, good or bad, but I say burn the book of rules. If it works, that's what I'm after. I'm intrigued by it. I wouldn't work with another designer for projections. It's like having a dog and doing the barking yourself.
— William Dudley, set designer
As the owner of a video company (which happens to own about 250 lights, 240-channels of dimming, 500' of truss, and three generators), I find it interesting that “the lighting guys” are trying to do video.
Just because High End makes the Catalyst and now separate software for the do-it-yourself crowd, doesn't mean the “lighting guys” should be doing video (or at least with the minimum knowledge of video that most of them seem to have). Just because I own a couple of semis worth of lighting, power distro, dimming, and generators doesn't make me a “lighting designer” either. Just as it takes an LD years to hone his/her skills and experiment with things, it also holds true for video.
— Bill Dedes, owner, Cutting Edge Productions
Modern technology certainly allows lighting and imagery to integrate with set elements in new and interesting ways. Past masters of scenography and projection design like Josef Svoboda would marvel at the possibilities. However, like color to black and white photography, it's not a replacement, just different.
The magic is in the design.
— Ken Flower, projection designer
In the realm of possibilities, there are a thousand ways to screw up, but only a few ways to do it right. All the knowledge from all the sources along the road to production will do no good if not shared (read: “converged”). Help each other or perish.
— Justin Dunlap, head electrician, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Set designer David Gallo and I have recently decided to take our careers in a new direction together. It has become indisputable that projections and multimedia are here to stay in theatre. In fact, they are here to stay in all of scenic design. Robert Edmund Jones said in his book, The Dramatic Imagination, published in 1941: “In the simultaneous use of the living actor and the talking picture in the theatre there lies a wholly new theatrical art, whose possibilities are as infinite as those of speech itself.” Sixty-three years later, we are still trying to figure out how to fulfill Jones' statement.
— Zak Borovay, projection designer
Convergence isn't about replacement. It's about using the best parts of existing media to create something new from the familiar. This process widens our canvas as artists, giving us more tools to work with as we craft stories and dream up new ways to engage and transform our audience.
— Dana Mott, Digital Media student, University of Central Florida
There is war out there, especially in television lighting and probably in concert lighting, as well. Just look at the credits on Kylie Minogue's latest concert DVD — the visuals' names must have included a dozen people. At least they were headed in the same direction, unlike a television event. The TV land-grabbing is getting pretty mean. No one is clearly in charge of design. And few producers understand that is a problem.
— Greg Brunton, lighting designer