Hairspray – Set Projection


Prior to the recent release of ArKaos Media Master 3, the team at BAAC Light gave the new software version and the video mapper functionality the ultimate final beta test. An amateur production of Hairspray the Musical staged by PLOS Musical Productions provided the ideal opportunity due to the requirement of a fully projected set. Large moveable set pieces constructed from polystyrene called for a media server solution capable of individually mapping over 90 different projection surfaces as the set pieces move into the numerous configurations for each scene. BAAC Light co-founders Andrei Chlebnikowski (projection designer) and Brad Alcock (lighting designer) opted to upgrade their existing Media Master License prior to the official release in order to unlock the functionality of the newly developed Video Mapper extension.

The setup for the show consisted of three Media Master Servers running on full spec’ed Mac Mini’s with dual solid state drives outputting to four projectors. The first two servers represented a pair of main and backup machines running the beta version of Media Master 3 and the Video Mapper Extension. Utilising Matrox dual-head-to-go graphics adaptors, these machines provided coverage for all the stage elements to be mapped. As the software was still in beta, running a hot swappable backup machine seemed prudent, but was never required to be switched to during the entire run – Media Master 3 and the video mapper were rock solid. The third server ran Media Master 2.2.6 (as no mapping was required for the final two projectors that this server was outputting to). Two large TV set pieces positioned on either side of the stage had live camera feeds from stage projected onto them during the numerous “TV Studio” scenes as well as pre-show TV commercials from the era.

Given the large number of projection surfaces to be mapped, the amount of artwork involved and the fact that as it was an amateur production with a very small technical production window in the actual theatre, the majority of the surface mapping and media server programming as completed in BAAC Light’s pre-production studio. This was achieved by loading CADs into the video mapper as background images which showed the projection surfaces to be mapped for each scene in its correct position. From there, over 90 individual projection surfaces were created.

BAAC Light then, for the first time, used Media Master in simple mode which effectively takes the assignment and manipulation of images away from the lighting console and has it performed on the Media Master itself. Given the amount of pre-production work, all that was required when each set piece was positioned during the plotting sessions was for the mapping of each surface to be quickly fine-tuned to the actual physical surface. Operating in simple mode still allowed for lighting console control over the intensity of each individual projection surface and for all projection cues to be incorporated into lighting cues to allow for single GO button playback of all lighting and projection cues.

If you would like to explore the opportunity of incorporating projected sets into your next event or production, we invite you to contact us.