Aqueous Maximus: House Of Dancing Water, Part 2: The Projection

Dec 22, 2010 10:07 AM, By Ellen Lampert-Gréaux

Projection designer Patrick Neys discusses creating images for House Of Dancing Water at City of Dreams in Macau, China

Copyright 2010 Melco Crown Entertainment Limited
Copyright 2010 Melco Crown Entertainment Limited

“The role of the projections is to transpose the journey of the protagonists in an imaginary kingdom, borrowing from Chinese and Western poetry,” says projection designer Patrick Neys of House Of Dancing Water at City of Dreams in Macau, China. “To complement the story, each scene should have its atmosphere, its character. The aim is to give the impression of moving from one place to another—from one tableau to another, from one era to another—while sitting in the same seat and forgetting the theatre that surrounds the viewer. The universe created by Franco takes the viewer through time, from that of the Silk Road and the major navigators to a technological future, while focusing on the deepest human values and intimacy. Sometimes we created really sharp images and sometimes only impressions to help convey this epic adventure.”

Ten Barco High End Systems DML-1200s and four Barco FLM R20+ projectors hang below the performer catwalk at level four in the theatre. The FLM R20+s are used for the main projection screen, as well as for a white mobile backdrop and painted mountains reminiscent of Mount Hua Shan. The DML-1200s bring the stage floor and the surface of the water to life. “We also use them on the ‘drum walls,’ two curtains placed above the audience and printed with a bamboo forest,” adds Neys, who also projected holographic characters into the fountains.

For the fountain effect referred to as “the house of dancing water” moment, the lighting and projections come together with interrelated cues. “The scene was staged after we showed the images to Franco,” says Lafortune, who worked with Neys at night to combine projections and lighting. “All the lifts under the water were up except one, and we needed to treat it with a pattern to indicate the edge of the lift…I came up with the idea of putting a frame around the water, like a Rococo frame around a mirror. Then we showed it to Franco. When he sees an image he likes, he’ll stage around it, an unusual way to work. It’s an interesting process to create images that don’t have to fit within the story—the freedom to create beautiful images and then find where they fit. The audience will interpret them individually anyway.”

“The treatment and management of high-definition images on multi-surfaces during the creation of live performance is extremely complex,” Neys adds. “I had the opportunity to discover and test different systems, but I finally turned to those with whom I had the opportunity to collaborate as an editor on the 2009 The Circus Starring Britney Spears tour: VYV and the Photon media server. Months before entering the theatre and during the creation period, we were able to collaborate to develop and optimize the software to Franco’s particular working method,” a factor Neys considers key to the successful completion of theprojections.

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