James and the Giant Peach with digital theatre projections

How Can Projections Help with Scene Transitions? | Behind the Curtain Video

This week on Behind the Curtain, theatre director and teacher Robert Botello discusses how projections can create smooth, effortless scenic changes in a show. He talks about how society has evolved in its expectations for entertainment and how the stories of certain theatrical shows lend themselves to faster transitions from scene to scene.

Video Length: 2:31 (2 minutes, 31 seconds)

QUESTION: “How Can Projections Help with Scene Transitions?”

ROBERT: “There’s sometimes where transitions in shows are so stark, so fast. They’re so harsh. And some of it is that way on purpose. With Annie (the Musical) for instance, specifically, the contrast between the mansion and the orphanage—it’s supposed to be intense, on purpose. Because then you see the difference in her life. It’s beautiful. It’s like that contrast is part of the story. It just tells the story. And when you’re having to move set pieces and backgrounds and scene to scene to scene…I mean, that show moves, it hustles along.

The amount of time that it takes to transition between scenes, it’s precious and you’re losing people. If you take too long to transition a scene, it’s tough to get your audience to stay with you mentally. You gotta move quick, which is great. And the less you have to move (props and set pieces), the better. And if somebody can just click a button and make it boom, flash here and there (from scene to scene), then all we’re moving is chairs on stage or coat racks or a table here and there. And all of sudden (with projections) you can go from the orphanage to the mansion, and I don’t mean this lightly, in literally seconds. And the actor coming on brings the coat rack with them and then they’re done. And you can do it with less stage hands because you don’t have people wheeling stuff in and out. It’s just so much faster (chuckles), so much easier. And you’re able to get that extreme contrast.

And it’s funny because in society nowadays that’s even how filming has gone. It’s so quick. If you watch TV shows or movies, scenes don’t last very long. The camera doesn’t stay in one spot, for very long at all. If it does, it’s really intentional. It moves so quick and so our attention span and our pace receives that quickly as well. Even on the stage. And so the ability to do that, to move and transition quicker—it’s actually meeting the audience where we’re (collectively) at, as a society. It’s meeting us right where we’re already used to being, which is great. Without sacrificing the beauty of the theatre and the background. Without having to be too rapid fire. It’s able to bring theatre into what we’re doing now as a society.”

If you’re doing Annie the Musical or even just thinking about it, check out some of our projection designs that are perfect for bringing the show to life. (Thanks! —Mitch)

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