Shrek’s lighting design, by Tim Hatley’s Spamalot colleague Hugh Vanstone, gives the show a once-upon-a-time sheen, subtly supplemented by projections and LEDs coordinated by media associate Laura Frank.
“Cue for cue, there’s very little of the lighting left from Seattle to New York,” says Vanstone. “Everything was revisited, sometimes again and again. This was not a conventional show, where you pick up a script and just do it. It kept on changing, not ripping up sheets and throwing them away but cutting and pasting one thing with another, more than I’ve ever known in a New York preview period.”
When it came to set/costume designer Tim Hatley’s choice of green for the ogre himself, Vanstone says, “The green issue was more of a problem for Tim than for me. The bigger problem was that it is a massive show, with scenery that eats up space massively. We had to have enough lighting in the right place for that alone, before thinking about the actors. The sets and the costumes supply the color, so most of it is white light. Many of the sets are fairly two-dimensional, however, so I had to give them more depth.”
Vanstone’s customary use of Vari-Lite VL5s, along with VL500s and VL3000s, were an asset, “and they served me very well on this,” he says. So was projection, though not the kind that announces itself as such. “We more or less projected the scenery on top of itself, which gives it that depth and allows us to control the color of it a bit more, by enriching a pale paint hue, or making it go paler still.”
Frank notes that the visuals don’t take on the role of storytelling but are simply for enhancement. “Our discussions centered on our projection system and our idea of using LED-embedded sliders to animate and enliven the stage,” she says, adding that the three Scharff Weisberg-supplied Panasonic PT-D10000U 10K video projectors on the FOH rail are operational for 70% of the show to pick out scenic elements. “There’s a game show sequence in Farquaad’s castle where we’re projecting kitschy flowers around the set or finding mossy color tones in the swamp set, which we couldn’t do with lighting,” Frank continues. “We set up a camera in the center of the house and Photoshopped any images we needed for the projector.” Video content was built in After Effects in Motion. Four Green Hippo Hippotizer V3 HD media servers programmed on an MA Lighting grandMA are used on the show.
Philips Solid-State Lighting/Color Kinetics iFlex is embedded into eight pairs of scenic legs comprising 45,000 RGB LEDs. These are controlled by one 1,024x768 video signal, managed by the Hippotizer and processed by Philips/Color Kinetics VSE Pro. The LED sliders are perhaps most noticeable at the top of the show, as Shrek finds himself at home in his swamp. “Swamp grass ‘grows’ in the sliders,” says Frank. “There are six pairs of 30'-tall stage sliders that move from side to side and two static pairs downstage that bordered the set. We process one video image across a whole array. Using a system we developed in After Effects, we can track the physical position of the sliders on stage and output video files correctly.”
Visit Shrek The Musical Lighting Gear for a complete list.
For the full article, check out the March issue of Live Design.