All the luggage lost all around the world and never found is gathered in a huge hangar. An imaginary, oniric place, where the dreams and the memories of people is stored and brought back to life by a wild bunch of comedian and illusionists. A crazy team with the international quick change artist Arturo Brachetti as a captain. This is the outline of the show “Brachetti Che Sorpresa”, last theatrical season’s success.
Garybald was made in charge of creating this imaginary world, using projection mapping techniques any giving them something barely seen in Italy: a narrative added value.
The scenography consisted basically in five different depth layers: two couples of stage wings, a tulle curtain, a removable background and the main background. The wings were not merely intended to frame the scene, but as a set element representing a pile of stacked luggage, with sculpted volumes and softly painted over white polystyrene. All the layers were coloured with a white base to act as a projection screen.
During the rehearsals at the Odeon Theatre in Biella it was possible to define the projection mapping project. The software chosen for controlling the projection layers was Millumin on a 2,4 ghz retina MacBook Pro. This choice was made considering two main issues: in smaller theaters it could be very difficult to place more than one projector at the same time without interfering with the audience or blocking the emergency exits, so a single projector from a central point of view is easily controllable with a small and prosumer machine; there was the necessity of making the projection flexible, easily adjustable and re-usable in lower budgeted shows like private conventions.
This choice of course gave some limits to the development of the mapping, opposed to the use of a media server with dedicated software (e.g. for real-time effects and overlapping projections), but appeared to be the most cost-effective ad flexible.
As Millumin is a software that works with a layer-cue-timeline—based approach, each element was assigned to a different layer and a timetable was created working with the lights and sound departments.
Basing on the projector-screen distance and the projection angle, a 3D model of the scene was rendered, placing the virtual camera at a distance of 36 meters (the average projector position in different theaters) with isolated items. By adding a strong ambient occlusion to the base render, it was possible to softly darken the seams and the limits of the projection, this limiting the work to the front face of the luggage. The base layer was afterwards painted in Photoshop.
Using this kind of approach to the set decoration offers a huge advantage. The environment doesn’t have to be painted anymore and can change as fast as a click from night to day, from realistic to comic style, from being a pile of luggage to being a pile of wooden case to an old column with posters attached. Projections have of course some equally huge limits: they need a very strong and high definition projector(s) to be clear and sharp, there is a focus issue as the scene is based on different depth layers, and most of all the stage light have to be carefully placed so they do not interfere with the projection creating faded grey areas. And this happens anyway.