Sleepy Hollow ballet performance with digital projection backdrops

How Projections Work with Set Pieces in a Theatre Show | Video

This week on Behind the Curtain, I discuss how theatre projections can play nice with other set pieces. I talk about how projections can do wonders to establish location and fill out the world of the show, and how that can cut down the number of other elements you might need on the stage. Although they are never meant to replace, only act as one more scenic design ‘tool’ that helps tell the story.

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

QUESTION: “How Do Projections Work with Set Pieces in a Show?”

Mitch: “So scenic projections don’t necessarily have to stand alone. A lot of teachers choose to use elements on stage. To use props, to use smaller elements. What they (projections) do is allow you to not use quite as many. You can be really selective about the ones that you do use on stage. So that you’re not trying desperately to fill up the stage space. I mean, a lot of teachers…like, for example one teacher I was working with, he really had this desire to do ‘The Hobbit’ on stage. And he was kind of left with the choice of a black curtain to fill up the stage space or he would be able to have something like a scenic projection to fill up that space. Where he could actually have Middle Earth right there on stage. And so what that would allow him to do would be to create tables or have some other smaller pieces for the actors to be able to interact with on the stage, but then as far as creating the wide vast canvas of the world, the scenic projection could handle that. So then he didn’t necessarily have to focus on that. He could really focus on those pieces and parts of the show that he felt like he needed to.

One of the advantages of using scenic projections is you don’t necessarily have to have those great big heavy stage pieces. You can have things that are fairly lightweight. You can accent the scenic projections. A lot of high school and middle school teachers, they’ll take the scenic projection as kind of the initial starting point for the scenic design, then they can actually fabricate pieces that can work in conjunction with it. Or sometimes when I’m working with specific high schools, what we’ll do is they can talk to me about what they’re thinking, as far as the overall design, and then we work together, to come up with the best solution to both fill up the backdrop and then also something that’s going to gel really well with the elements that they’re going to have on stage. All of those things are part of the overall scenic design of the show. Considering the color of things and how they work in conjunction with the costumes. All of those choices are artistic choices and sometimes you want to be able to give students some tasks to do, that have to do with the artistic development, or artistic direction of the show. But then with scenic projections what you can do is take care of this other aspect that teachers may or may not want to have to deal with.”

If you’re interested in using projections in your show, check out our growing library of both still and animated digital artwork. You can also let us know what you’ve got coming—we’re always looking to add new scenes and shows!

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