Sven Ortel’s vibrant visual vocabulary for Broadway’s Wonderland is boldly kinetic. His inspiration for this modern musical update to the classic story of Alice is “Victorian imagery for act one and Steampunk for act two,” says Ortel, who spent approximately 10 weeks creating custom content from scratch. “I looked at various references and decided how to make them fit the show,” he adds. “I storyboarded a lot of the complicated sequences, and the images were then hand-drawn and animated.”
Using a coolux Pandoras Box system (seven Media Servers, two Media Managers, two Widget Designers, and Sensor Link interface) controlled by an MA Lighting grandMA console, the images are smartly tied to Neil Patel’s set with four tracking panels in pairs, two upstage and two further downstage that cross over. “From Victorian garlands framing the panels to Steampunk pipes, valves, and pressure gauges, each scene has a different look: psychedelic paisley patterns for the caterpillar or playing cards for the Queen of Hearts,” notes Ortel. “Encoders on the winches and tracking panels tell me where the images are so I can turn them on when they are visible and turn them off when not visible.
Ortel’s team—associate S. Katy Tucker, assistant Lucy Mackinnon, programmer Cory FitzGerald, media tech/Widget Designer programmer Michael Kohler, and video tech Christopher Kurtz—did the final tweaking during technical rehearsals. Front projection is via two Christie Digital Roadster HD18K projectors and one Roadster HD10K-M, all provided by Scharff Weisberg.
Ortel is a featured speaker at the 2011 Broadway Projection Master Classes on May 23, in a solo discussion about his recent projects, and a panel about video design and technology with his team from Wonderland.