PRG XL Video Supplies Theatre Video Solution for Travelling On One Leg at Hamburg Schauspielhaus

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14/11/2015 Theatre projects

Working with Video Designer, Ingi Bekk, PRG XL Video supplied a video technology solution for a Hamburg theatre production of Reisende auf einem Bein (Travelling On One Leg), based on the novel by Nobel-prize winning author, Herta Müller.

Adapted for the stage by British theatre director Katie Mitchell OBE, and dramaturge Rita Thiele, and directed by Mitchell, the production incorporates a multimedia approach to theatre by the use of live cameras on the actors, the feeds from which are then cut live and projected on to screens above, creating the effect that a movie is being made live on stage.

Many of Katie Mitchell’s productions use multimedia, and this is used to explore the theme of detachment which is present in many of the plays she stages. In Reisende auf einem Bein the main character Irene, played by Julia Wieninger, begins life in Romania, but then takes a decision to move to Germany. The feeling of detachment is most prominent in Germany as she settles in an unfamiliar country. With the subject of refugees and migrants in Europe at the forefront, this makes the themes covered in Reisende auf einem Bein very topical.

Ingi Bekk has worked with Katie Mitchell on three occasions, with this his first as lead Video Designer. His design for the show technology was done in close collaboration with Director of Photography, Grant Gee, who then led the process of capturing the action on five cameras on stage.

To supply the cameras, media servers and projection technology, Bekk worked with PRG XL Video’s Senior Account Manager, Ed Cooper to satisfy the complex technology requirements.

Bekk explains: “To pick up the detail of the performances, the period accurate props, and the performers facial expressions, it was important to place the cameras correctly. For example, throughout the play Irene builds up a collage of newspaper clippings and her own photographs, so it was important for the cameras to be able to pick-up the close-up detail of this key element, as well as the incredibly detailed props and scenery used in the show.

“We used a combination of professional camera people, and for some scenes also required the actors to handle the HD cameras. We utilised a mini jib, slider unit, and adapted grip equipment to achieve the right angles during the performance.”

Bekk continues: “Around the set twenty monitors were set up which displayed the shot number, the current live camera, and other show-crucial information - this enabled the performers to know exactly which camera was live and which shots were being shown on screen at any time.

“From the camera feeds, we edited the footage live, via the Catalyst media servers equipped with HDSDI capture cards. The shots were all processed with some pre-programmed colour-grading, to give the projected images a stark and cinematic appearance.”

In addition, one of PRG XL Video’s QLab media servers was used to provide synchronised triggering of audio, video and lighting throughout the show. Programming for the media servers was handled by Ellie Thompson, Associate Video Designer, and Iain Syme, a student from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, provided assistance to both Bekk and Thompson throughout the production. The cinematic element of the production was achieved with the use of three different projection screens. One, fed by one of PRG XL Video’s Panasonic 10k projectors, showed the images of Irene’s life in Romania, with a second, also fed by a Panasonic 10k unit used on stage for backgrounds for some of the scenes. A third Barco 20k unit, supplied by the theatre, was used for the segment in Germany. Ingi Bekk sums up: “This was a challenging, but exciting production to work on. The video set-up was central to the whole look and feel of the play. I was very happy to work with Ed Cooper and PRG XL Video to get the technology we needed to achieve the desired outcome.” Reisende auf einem Bein returns to the Schauspielhaus, Hamburg from 13-19 November 2015.

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