XL Video supplied video equipment and crew for the sold-out arena tour of the musical version of War Of The Worlds, created by maestro Jeff Wayne. The show features musicians on stage– a 48-piece string orchestra, a 10-piece electric band–that support the actors who bring H.G. Well’s novel to life. The show has received great reviews for its staging and projection visuals.
The tour, run by Steve Nolan’s Chromatic Productions Ltd, featured a front projected 80’ wide by 15’ high screen using eight Barco ELM R18 projectors, relaying two hours of high-resolution CGI narrative visuals, created by Media Station.
A massive Martian Fighting Machine (MFM) set piece is used in the show. Stage right featured a 10’ three-dimensional head, onto which custom-made video animation of narrator Richard Burton was projected.
“It was a great privilege and pleasure to be involved with this hugely popular and ambitious tour,” says Paul Wood, project manager for XL.
It took XL’s Dicky Burford as chief engineer, video director Nick Fry, a team of three engineer/projectionists, and two cameramen to realize the visions of both Jeff Wayne and production designer Jonathan Park.
All playback visuals–including the narration–were stored on four two-channel Grass Valley Turbo IDDR hard drives (two pairs run live, plus back up devices) and synchronized to the audio track via SMPTE timecode. Overall show control was run by Barco Events Manager control system.
The R18 projectors were rigged onto their own trusses, and head projectionist Clarke Anderson undertook the precise daily line-up.
Director Nick Fry directed and overlaid playback visuals onto the narrative footage. He cut the mix using one of XL’s Digital Production Units with a Sony DFS700 vision mixer, and this was mapped onto the large screen using one of XL’s four output channel Barco Folsom Encore systems, overseen by Burford.
Fry worked with two Sony D50 cameras in the pit, and concentrated on weaving footage of the five principals into the screen action using a maximum of two ‘windows’ at any one time on the main screen. “The brief was to look unlike standard IMAG,” says Fry, who enjoyed the challenge enormously.
The Martian Fighting Machine and the Richard Burton head were made by Steel Monkey, with the head projected onto by two of XL’s Barco ELM G10’s, located at the FOH position. Burton had recorded the audio for the album but was not filmed reciting the words, and unfortunately died shortly before this was he had a chance to record visuals as well. Media Station skilfully merged a similar pair of real talking lips onto Burton’s face, making it appear to be him relaying the story on the giant head.
This element tricked many audience members into thinking it was produced by some sort of holographic magic rather then a simple video projection.
XL also supplied a Catalyst DL1 moving head fixture with camera capabilities, mounted onto the underbelly of the “MFM”, which was used at particular moments to create the ‘Martian’s eye view’ by scanning the audience, with its output then fed into the video mix.