Thursday, October 6, 2011

59 Productions and the Making of "War Horse"

I find it interesting that the use of motion graphics and animation is not solely limited to television and movies. Many staged productions are also using animation to add a new dimension to live theater. One show that uses this technique is the 2011 Tony Award winner for Best New Play, War Horse. I remembered awhile back watching a video on that looked into the making of "War Horse" and how the 3D animation is used to subtly enhance the story. The production company behind bringing animation to "War Horse" is 59 Productions, a film and new media production company that excels in film making and integrating moving images into live performance. This company has relations in the UK, Europe and North America. Some of its other projects include commercial productions in the West End, the Royal Opera House and the Metropolitan Opera of New York.

Within this video Mark Grimmer, a video projection designer and director of 59 Productions makes a good point about the use of technology. He said "One of the great things about War Horse in particular, and the way we work in general is, we try to not let the technology take over and just because something is possible isn't necessarily a reason to do it. So using technology without letting it being apparent is something we aim for." I feel like this is a really good outlook because I agree technology should not just be used for technology sake. It must also serve the purpose of enhancing the story the play is trying to tell.

Here is the video about the Making of "War Horse":

At about the 2 minute mark of this video I noticed that Peter Stenhouse, who was the Director of Animation at 59 Productions, is using a After Effects or a program with a very similar interface.

1 comment :

  1. This is a great production. I hope everyone gets a chance to see it. I love large scale puppetry and the puppeteers in this show are masters of the craft.
    Peter is using two programs in the scene. On the left monitor he is using Maya with the 3D models for the (very) large scale projection.

    On the right monitor he is using Isadora, which is one of the standard graphic and media real-time manipulation tools used for live performance. Most very large scale performance installations around the world use either Isadora or PD (PureData) another program we will be looking at.

    You can download a free demo version of Isadora HERE and play with it if you want. It is quite an extraordinary program, specially if you are interested in live performance (theatre, concerts, clubs etc.) The student pricing for Isadora is about 275. Here are the very clear video tutorials for it.

    You can also download PD which is probably the most used real-time video/audio/everything manipulation program in the world. Any VJ worth their eyes and ears uses PD. This programs requires more dedication and has a steeper learning curve. It is Open Source and free. The commercial version of the program (with a perhaps easier user interface) is called MAX/MSP and they were both created by the same person, Miller Puckette who was generous enough to give this extraordinary program for free and therefore created a worldwide community of artists, videomakers, musicians, performers that can even collaborate remotely in real time.