Production Resource Group, LLC (PRG) is providing a large video system for the new musical, Lestat, which begins previews at the Palace Theatre in March after completing out-of-town tryouts in San Francisco. The video system for the production was specified by Howard Werner of Lightswitch New York, who selected PRG's Mbox Extreme media server for control and playback of all of the video content in the show. The research and development team at PRG expanded the media server's features to meet Lestat's requirements. "We developed the ability to soft edge blend imagery, to synchronize Mbox Extremes, and to play larger, higher definition files," comments Werner, who worked with the R&D team.
In San Francisco, Lestat used a total of 13 video projectors: nine Digital Projection Dsx+ 12000, three Digital Projection Lightning 35HD, and one Christie LX 100. The nine 12K projectors were stacked three high and three wide at the back wall of the theatre.
"With Mbox Extreme you can divide a video file over nine projectors, and play them synchronously from the DMX console to create a seamless panorama," notes PRG vice president Anne Johnston.
Many of the rear-projected images were 1024x768, which can be a challenging size for smooth playback when using multiple layers. Smooth playback was particularly critical in Lestat because projectors were tiled, with multiple projectors creating one image. The 35HD projectors in the front of house played even larger files because the projected images required higher resolution.
"We needed to develop a highly refined edge-blending capability in Mbox Extreme, which could be changed from cue to cue, since the projection surfaces in the show are not stationary,” explains Johnston. “In addition, we wrote custom software that let us take control of the projector features (on/off, shutter, remote focus, lens shift) from the lighting console, so that lens moves could be recorded into cues."
The result has been stunning. "It's reliable night after night, I'm very happy with it," remarks Werner. PRG vice chairman & chief technology officer Rusty Brutsche comments, "When you see all those projectors working together to create one image, it's an amazing thing. Not only was the imagery amazing, but the performance of Mbox Extreme has been stellar as well.”