Professional Lighting & Production - Summer 2022 - Page 27

“ That ’ s why she come across as so powerfully ; that ’ s why she became a symbol to overcome difficulties in life ,” he says . “ She always reacted with a smile . She put a lot of our suffering in her paintings as well . Although they ’ re all dark , the result always has a bit of a comical , funny , or childish side that brings the happiness and the darkness to kind of combine .”
Delving into the life of Frida Kahlo beyond her famous artworks was something Guidotti and his team enjoyed about the process of creating their exhibit . In doing so , they were able to better understand her work , and many aspects of her life gave them the inspiration they needed to bring the paintings to life .
“ Of course , we reviewed many paintings , and we started researching little details about her story , curious facts , and things that not everybody knows , reading her biography and things like that ,” Guidotti says . “ History-wise , we found out that Frida took part in two big revolutions — the Mexican one and the Russian one — so we wanted to bring that into the show as well .”
Developing a deeper understanding of who Frida Kahlo was certainly helped Guidotti and his colleagues build the show as an immersive experience , going beyond just displaying Kahlo ’ s artwork . The technical aspects of the show , though , brought entirely new challenges because , to bring their vision to life , the team had to push the boundaries of what was possible in lighting and screen production .
“ We used a software for 2D animation and a software for 3D animation , then we explored the combined videos ,” Guidotti explains . “ But the resolution is so high . There is not a screen that can project that kind of resolution , because sometimes we are working with 20,000 pixels by 2,000 .”
Guidotti ’ s fear was that technological limitations would render the show an average sequence of paintings , which was inconsistent with the vision he and the other artists had for this project . Though it took an incredible amount of trial and error , the dedication of the creative and technical teams to upping the ante for immersive art installations never waned .
Sean Richards is the director of production for Toronto ’ s Immersive Frida Kahlo installation , located at 1 Yonge Street in a 500,000-cu . -ft . exhibit space , complete with a walk-up viewing platform atop a mirrored room . In sorting out the challenges of how the full show could be displayed across the room , Richards and his team put together a setup of 53 projectors , with one inside a small , mirrored room and the rest in the gallery .
“ The deployment is an even number , which is typical , because it ’ s usually some even distribution ,” he explains . The gallery is essentially a 52-projector deployment . In order to get the height we want , we orient all the projectors in portrait mode . So , they ’ re all 1,920 pixels high , and that gives us more pixel density and height .” Each venue — in seven cities including Boston , Chicago , Dallas , Denver , Houston , Los Angeles , and Toronto — has to have a different rigging design to accommodate the different rooms . Richards says they got lucky with the Toronto installation , in that they could have a single truss grid that goes up like in a typical production , meaning the team was able to build everything and run all the cables out at a working floor height , test it there , and then take it up to height and lock it off .
“ We were very lucky that way . But of course , that means that the projectors themselves have to all be slightly different heights depending on where they are located ,” he says . “ The floor projectors are different heights relative to the wall projectors , for example , and that ’ s just where the lenses have to be . I think that ’ s the most unique and interesting challenge to this whole project is that everything is designed around where the lens needs to be .”
The Immersive Frida Kahlo exhibit doesn ’ t have an exclusive contract with any production or equipment company , but Richards says he has found that Panasonic projectors and Meyer Sound speakers are what worked best for their purposes , and his teamed operated almost entirely using these makes .
“ Panasonic projectors have been the most flexible and capable for us , because we do so much of our work in the way we create the images on the walls ,” he says . “ Panasonic has been very , very good at creating software solutions that allow us to manipulate the projectors , and combine the projectors , and network everything together in a way that no other company seems to be doing at the size of projector that we prefer to use .”
Something Richards finds interesting is that this show didn ’ t require particularly bright projectors , and worked better with projectors closer to the 8K to 10k lumen range , what he says his industry typically uses for breakout rooms and smaller spaces in the corporate world .
“ When you have 53 of them , it just kind of combines to make the brightness that you need . And an important thing to realize is that we use lots of smaller projectors , and we spend the time to blend them correctly ,” he says . “ I think that achieves two things : we get some accuracy and some pixel density that is offset a little bit by the cost .”
There are larger , more costly projectors out there , but ultimately , Richards says , his team is able to get a better optical quality across a large area like the Toronto installation space by using many small projectors rather than a few bigger ones , and smaller projectors allow for more manipulation of odd little areas of the space .
“ I think the final component of that is the fact that you ’ re dealing with corners , and you ’ re dealing with columns , and you ’ re dealing with architectural features that you have no choice over . Having more smaller projectors gives you options to be able to deal with that one funky little space on the wall or the floor configuration ,” he explains . “ That allows you to sort of break it down a little bit , and you can create the illusion that you ’ re bending light around objects , because you ’ re
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actually putting more projectors in , and you ’ re suddenly getting around that column that would typically cause shadows or something like that .”
Richards echoes Guidotti ’ s sentiment that much technology specifically for projects like this
PHOTO : COURTESY OF RED EYE MEDIA
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