ETC Paris are supplying their proprietary OnlyView multimedia control software and Christie HD video projectors to Franco-Italian scenic design specialists Danny Rose for the acclaimed new production of Giulietta e Romeo (Romeo & Juliet) which is currently touring Italy.
Show director, Sergio Carrubba (also the director of Danny Rose), came to ETC Paris with his concept “Maximage Experience”, a system based on ‘total immersion’ that he has developed with associate Paola Ciucci in which the stage, actors and audience are all surrounded by “dynamic giant image projection”.
For Giulietta e Romeo, Carrubba has transposed this experience to popular opera by “enriching it with the charm and mystery of 3-dimensional projected sets” fusing his passion for the two very different visual artforms of theatre and film.
The scenery is stripped back and bare, with projection the key scenic vehicle. The main physical elements of scenery include a downstage opera gauze and a five section mid-stage bridge whose centre portion moves up and downstage. Two sets of staircases move in and out of the wings and join up with the bridge’s centre portion at specific times. Upstage of the bridge is a second gauze and right at the rear of stage, behind the cyclorama, is a series of scaffold towers. The artists perform on the scaffold throughout the show, their shadows viewed through the gauze in the projection beams and interacting with the images. The whole set is coloured white to optimise the projections.
The two Christie 25K machines (running with full “hot” back ups) are positioned differently at each venue to maximise impact. They are often side by side, but their distances apart can vary greatly, as can the throw distances – from 38 to 72 metres to date – so ETC has supplied a full range of objective lenses to deal with this.
Because of the variations in throw distances and projector positions (the show is playing both indoors and outdoors), the flexibility and rapid editability of ETC’s OnlyView control system has been absolutely vital in making the projections work in significantly different set ups.
OnlyView also deals with all the image adjustments needed to fit the projections onto the vast array of constantly changing - and often moving - projection surfaces throughout the show. The key here was to have a system that facilitated quick and easily programming modifications, and one that could also track the images simultaneously to the shifting scenery, whilst retaining perfect focus and distortion correction at all times.
OnlyView allows each projection surface in each ‘scene’ its own media timeline that can be called up as necessary. The numerous media timelines are then controlled via a general timeline which receives timecode synchronising the projection to the show’s audio, as well as controlling the projectors and their back-ups.
All of the show’s visual elements and imagery in both 2D and 3D were envisaged and created by Danny Rose. This task has been incredibly complex – e.g. a 3-D sphere for the party scene in the first act took 8 months to perfect, from the initial sketches to the final animation. There are also numerous “virtual” illuminations (projected by the VPs) that appear throughout the performance – from the opening scene in which virtual beams of light emerge behind Mercutio and illuminate a view of Verona, to the lighting of the torches (also virtual) in the living room during the party scene. The imagery utilised throughout the show runs non-stop for over two hours, with all sources stored on the OnlyView servers.
Ciucci says, “Using the projections as we are, everything is created ‘live’ and in real time right in front of the eyes of the audience as if they were experiencing ‘live cinema’. The performers interact with the virtual scenery which is effectively another character in the show”.
“Everything has been possible thanks to the excellent relationship between Danny Rose and ETC Paris, who have been collaborating together for more than a decade. ETC’s team are brilliant and the OnlyView software enables us to achieve what was unthinkable just a few years ago,” Ciucci comments. An illustration of this was during rehearsals when they were lining up the projections onto the moving staircases. Here, OnlyView allowed them to manage the images in realtime and immediately update the angles and perspectives as required.
Carrubba and Cuicci also collaborated very closely with lighting designer Pasquale Mari to fine tune the show’s overall visuality. Mari comments that the experience of working with the projections has been “a unique opportunity to synthesise the language of lighting in theatre and cinema”.
Giulietta e Romeo’s music has been written by Richard Cocciante with libretto by Pasquale Panella. The show kicks off 2008 in Milan.