Total Production

Prize Win For Backstage Academy And The Society Of British Theatre Designers

July 2015

Backstage Academy and The Society of British Theatre Designers win a special jury prize for projection mapping project for the Prague Quadrennial.

Backstage Academy’s BA Visual Production students have triumphed on production for The Society of British Theatre Designers’ Make/Believe showcase at the Prague Quadrennial, where they created an immersive environmental projection mapping of a room in the Clam-Gallasův Palác and won the Special PQ Jury Award.

“This has been a great collaborative process with creative and technical dialogue between professional designers, students, and projection mapping experts. We are seeing the work in a completely new way!” remarked Make/Believe curator Kate Burnett.

The Special PQ Jury Award, judged by a team of top international directors and designers, recognised “the richness and diversity of an exhibition that shows high quality work from across the spectrum of contemporary performance design - in a variety of venues, and embracing space, light, media and costume”.

Make/Believe’s showcase of the best of British theatre designers is curated from a selection of productions from the past four years. Make/Believe for the Prague Quadrennial took a departure from the traditional model box and drawing showcase by utilising projection mapping technology. 

FIX8Group provided equipment for the students to work with including a d3 Media Server, video switching and control, while Panasonic sponsored the project with four PT-DZ680 digital projectors. 

For a programme like Backstage Academy, this connection and support from production partners is key in giving students access to the latest tools and training, in order to deliver a highly skilled talent pool back to the live events industry.

The students at Backstage had worked for the previous six weeks building projection sequences filming, and capturing the model boxes and hand drawings in 4K from 30 theatre productions from 22 designers.

Course Leader Shannon Harvey remarked: "This has been a very wonderful process for our students to be involved in. Having access to the remarkable model boxes and hand sketches from some of the world's best designers was a treasure trove of incredible inspiration. 

“The juxtaposition of taking a historically analogue manual design process and transforming it into an immersive digital canvas was quite extraordinary."

The project enabled the BA (Hons) Live Visual Production first year students to play an integral role in producing a ground breaking production while participating in the world's largest scenographic festival, the Prague Quadrennial.

The students took on all aspects of the project, working through the system design, content workflow, production planning, installation, and commissioning as a part of their course work. 

Student Emily Handley remarked: “Doing this project abroad provided some valuable experience about delivering an event with issues from language barriers to power types. 

“We learned project management techniques for getting students and equipment from Wakefield to Prague. It was also great to spend some down time in the beautiful city.”

The process of interpreting creative intent into a new type of presentation demanded a very visual and iterative feedback process. The students created sequences, visualised them in d3 and provided videos of what the installation would be like for feedback from the designers.

Student Michael Edwards said: “Working with clients and the designers meant we had real feedback for our work, especially our content design. 

“This feedback had so much more meaning than getting a grade for my work.” 

Photos: Emily Handley


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