For the Montreal production of L’amour, la mort et le prêt-à-porter, the French version of Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore (based on the eponymous book by Ilene Beckerman), the visual design agency Luz Studio and set designer Jean Bard installed 40 dark gray mannequins at the back of the stage to serve as the screen for 3D video content, mostly mapped from a simple iPhone. “We were looking for something different for the background of the Montreal production to make it different from the New York and Paris versions where there were stars such as Nicole Kidman, Rosie O’Donnell, and different stars every week,” says Luz Studio president & artistic director, Matthieu Larivée.

The play, directed by Denise Filiatrault, a well-known figure in Canadian theatre, for the Theatre du Rideau Vert, features women chatting about their relationships and what they wear. “In New York, the actresses had a board where they could draw their dresses,” notes Larivée. “In Montreal, we created a backdrop that we could use to project the described dresses.” This 3D mapping technique, usually used for building stunts or big events, has been adapted to this low budget project using an Apple iPhone and the Autodesk softwares 123D Catch and 3D Studio Max. A coolux Pandoras Box Player Pro was used for playback, paired with a Christie HD10K-M 1080 HD DLP Projector. “The biggest issue was finding an affordable solution for the mapping, but once we found the 123D Catch software, we were able to do what we wanted to achieve. The iPhone kept the scale of the images; the result was exactly what we needed,” notes Larivée.

“On this gig, the projection is not the main feature. It’s a support to the play,” Larivée adds. And here lies the biggest challenge. With such an extensive set design, it was easy to steal the show from the actresses, and divert the spectators’ attention from the text to the video content, so the studio decided to limit the motion to specific canvas. Larivée explains, “like when talking about Madonna wearing her bra with metal cups, we put some movement on the mannequins, but for the rest, it was more of a background. It was important that the projection did not create the rhythm of the play.” The images ranged from specific dresses that the actresses describe in detail projected onto one mannequin to static colors or hand-sketched signature looks of dresses.

The team lit the actresses with warmer stage lighting than the color temperature of the images, using conventionals with no color on the actresses, mainly gobos on the floor to create a lively stage, and adding a little color when talking about specific dresses to change the look a little. “The overall response was surprising,” he says. “The people were talking a lot about it. We had a very nice response from the audience.”



Credits:

Title: L'amour, la mort et le prêt à porter (french version of Love, Loss and What I Wore)
Venue: Théâtre du Rideau Vert, Montreal, Canada
Dates:  May 7th - June 1st 2013

Story: NORA and DELIA EPHRON
Book: ILENE BECKERMAN
French translation: DANIÈLE LORAIN
Director: DENISE FILIATRAULT
Assisted by: MARIE-HÉLÈNE DUFORT
Set Designer: JEAN BARD
Costume Designer:  SUZANNE HAREL
Lighting Designer:  MATTHIEU LARIVÉE - LUZ STUDIO
Projection Design and content creation:  LUZ STUDIO
Production Manager:  GUY CÔTÉ
Technical Director: GUY-ALEXANDRE MORAND
Lighting Director: ALEXANDRE MICHAUD
Head Carpenter: CLAUDE BARSETTI
Head Sound: STÉPHANE PELLETIER

Gear List:

Lighting:
37 x Strand Lighting 1Kw Fresnel
26 x Altman Lighting Par 64
6 x Strand Lighting 9 degree
5 x Strand Lighting 20 degree
21 x Strand Lighting 30 degree
6 x Strand Lighting SL 40 degree
24 x Strand Lighting Zoom Ellipsoidal 15/32
15 x 60w light bulb
1 x MDG Atmosphere
1 x Strand 520

Video:
1 Christie HD10K-M 1080 HD DLP Projector
1 Coolux Pandora's Box Player Pro