“The characters of a comic book are the many souls of the author come to life”
“A spitful of Dollars” is a scene from the theatrical show Brachetti Che Sorpresa. A four minutes quick change performance, in which the protagonist appears and disappears from the stage, playing 7 different characters, with more than 20 costume changes. The performance had already been made by Brachetti in 1993, using as set a wall with three doors, a bar and a piano, in order to re-create the interiors of a Western film saloon. As the performance had already been broadcasted on TV, it was necessary to modify it to give it a more modern design and a surprising effect on the public.
The main goal was intact to renew the scene, to make it more “alive”, and to add some elements to distract the audience during the quick changes and make them appear even quicker. Animating the scene digitally was a good solution to achieve those goals. Using the projection mapping techniques, allowed us to precisely map a saloon on white set elements, while by using After Effects it was possible to add the animated elements, that should be synched and related to the artist’s movements and actions. We started by filming the whole performance during the rehearsals, as soon as the music composing was complete, from a frontal point of view, as similar as it could be to the one that had to be used for the projection. This video was the starting base for the synching the action with the pre-produced animation.
The saloon was composed in Photoshop, with particular attention to the surreal vanishing point on the ceiling, thus enhancing the 3d illusion. The active elements (comic baloon, characters, a random raccoon…) where animated and synched to the soundtrack in AE, basing on Arturo Brachetti’s movement from the rehearsals. Trapcode Particular was used as a particle generator for the cartoon-looking musical notes and the hearts on top of the “lady” and the pupet tool to animate the raccoon. All the elements where intended to be as cartoon-like as possible, using as reference style that of the old west-based comics, such as Tex, Lucky Luke and The Lone Ranger: animated balloons, visualized sound fx, comic-styled fonts, full and saturated colors.
This performance was a huge success in all the representations all around italy, nonetheless from a merely technical point of view, there still are some issues that need to be solved with specific improvements. Because of the nature of the performance, the artist and the projections are never perfectly synched, as the pre-production footage was used as a base for the timing of the animation. One solution should be making the interaction in real time by using the kinect technology for the motion capture, thus exponentially growing the possibilities of making spectacular the performance. For example the visual and sound “bangs” could be automatically generated by a specific movement of the artist. If moreover the direction of the gunshot intersects the buffalo head or other elements, those could be reacting accordingly, making the interaction real and appealing.