d3 Provides Gear for Royal Opera House

by Naomi Crews

"Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny"d3 Technologies provided software and media servers for the video mapping sequences required in the Covent Garden English language production of Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, a Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill tale of crime and depravity. 

d3 Enhances Creative Staging of “Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny” at London’s Royal Opera House

London (July 16, 2015) – When the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden recently staged “Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny,” software and media servers from d3 Technologies played a key role in the complex video mapping required for the new English-language production by John Fulljames.

“Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny,” a once-controversial satire by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, employed a number of visual techniques to support the tale of crime and depravity.

“The first set was a shipping container on the back of a truck, which rotated continuously, opening and closing, expanding and contracting as it became several different environments,” explains video designer Finn Ross.  “The container not only moved but changed size – very challenging propositions.”

Video imagery was displayed in the container via back and front projection with a d3 v.2.5 media server tracking video onto the automated scenic element.  “We built an encoders in to the set so we could track where the container was at any time,” says Ross.  “Once we had the movement calibrated in rehearsal we could put the video onto it: It was like video glue – we didn’t have to do anything else to keep it there.  d3 did all the hard work for us.”

Although the set moved on and off stage daily, Ross says, “We were able to calibrate it every day quite rapidly, using QuickCal, which we couldn’t have done on other systems.  It was really great to have a piece of software that worked and was supported by the d3 team.”

The second act of the opera introduced a 15-meter high wall of shipping containers, all video mapped.  Some were open with video projections displayed on their interiors.  “Video tracked onto the wall the whole time, illustrating the seven deadly sins in this city of sin and vice,” says Ross.  All of the video was sourced from a Panasonic 21K lumen HD projector and 2 Panasonic 10k projectors with d3 performing the video mapping.

Ross did most of the d3 programming with Gareth Shelton of the Royal Opera House.  “It was the second show I’ve done on d3,” Ross says.  “Once the video was mapped it was all about the content, and d3 was very, very helpful in the creative process.”

d3’s ability to previsualize the content in three dimensions gave everyone “an immediate sense of how the show would feel within the space,” he notes – an especially handy thing since the set was so deep.  “We could look at things from lots of different sightlines.  With our design development process we could go from an idea to a developed idea to a finished idea very effectively and show the director what we had in mind,” says Ross.  “We got to the first rehearsal on stage with everything programmed.  And that was great because we had so little time on site.”