When projection designer William Cusick wanted to augment his projection design with a unique camera effect for the production of “Bare,” a contemporary rock musical playing at New World Stages in the heart of the Manhattan theater district, he relied on his preferred technology supplier, WorldStage, to come up with a low-cost creative solution.
WorldStage, the new brand for Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications Inc., had previously teamed with Cusick on a concert workshop called “Salomes Envisage” earlier this year. That production, which required a five-projector videomapped design around the performer, will make its debut in Switzerland in 2013.
“Bare” tells the story of a group of teens coming to grips with issues of identity, sexuality and religion at a co-ed Catholic boarding school. The emotionally-charged tale and its rock score was first staged in Los Angeles over a decade ago and has had over 100 productions worldwide.
Cusick wanted to move beyond the usual WATCHOUT and projection systems that many Broadway shows, including “Bare,” now employ. But he knew he needed help to create a software app tailored to a specific scene.
“One character is asked by another to take his picture with his iPhone. So he aims the phone and slowly the live camera feed from the phone comes up on the concrete wall behind them,” he explains. “Then the character snaps the picture, and we see the frozen video image. That same picture is shown two more times in the show: as a saved screen capture and in a memorial scene after the character dies. So there’s a through-line with the image.”
As a result, WorldStage ended up providing a significant “value-add” in addition to its usual theatrical video system in the form of customized iPhone app. While the company is well-known as one of the most popular technology providers on Broadway, software creation is also one of the facets of the company that clients can utilize.
“Creating this kind of custom application is in our wheelhouse,” said WorldStage account executive Lars Pedersen. “It’s what we like to do.”
WorldStage technology specialist Michael Kohler wrote a custom live-streaming app that met Cusick’s needs for the camera effects. “This app was a perfect example of how I use off-the-shelf software to make something work in the middle,” he said. “We had the concept, we had the equipment and I had to figure out how to get from Point A to Point X. The concept was all Bill [Cusick’s]. The artistic end product was the inspiration for it—I just had to find a way to do it.”
Cusick notes that the scene was “such a dramatic stage set piece that it was worth the time and effort to make it happen. Michael’s app surpassed my expectations. It was a pleasure working with Lars and the team, and I look for every opportunity to collaborate with them again.”
In addition to Kohler’s software app, WorldStage also supplied “Bare” with three Christie 10K projectors and an integrated Dataton WATCHOUT package featuring a display computer, production computers and a Dynamic Image Server that supports live streaming.