Oh What A Night for Catalyst

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Bristol based video, AV and digital content production specialists R2 Digital Productions Ltd purchased a high specification Catalyst digital media server from Projected Image Digital (PID) and 3 Sanyo projectors for the current Random Concerts touring production of "Oh What A Night". R2 Digital Productions Ltd, headed by Colin Rozee, are the tour's technical co-ordinators. At the end of 2007, producer Stuart Littlewood was keen to replace some of the physical set with video and give the show - which has been on the road for 11 years - a bit of a contemporary twist. He spoke to Rozee who advised that large projections would be a way to achieve this, by which time lighting designer Nigel Catmur had already come up with initial ideas for a projected set design containing 51 different sized projection windows mounted onto 3 large onstage flats. Catmur had used Catalyst on many previous projects and was very keen to do so again, and his knowledge and experience with Catalyst encouraged Rozee to decide on the purchase. It is the first time that Rozee had used the system, but he decided to buy this and the 3 projectors due to the protracted length of the tour. Approaching PID, Rozee explained what he wanted to do. They came back with a top spec machine, complete with solid state drives and a Matrox graphics adaptor that enables the distribution of images across 3 screens. "We asked PID to build us the most powerful machine available at that time," says Rozee, as they could already envision the need to be able to use up to 14 layers at the outset. This also gave Catmur all the creative scope he needed. Catmur called in Sam McLaren to work as associate LD and Catalyst programmer. They and Rozee worked closely together, with Rozee producing all the show’s video content. Rozee shot some video footage specially for the show which was then treated in Catalyst, and also made use of its onboard library material plus clips produced using assorted other software including Illustrator, PhotoShop, After Effects, Particle Illusion, Final Cut Pro and Motion. The content clips - all stored on the Catalyst's hard drives, depict several different locations in the script, and large chunks of it are driven by the narrative. There's a selection of indoor and outdoor scenes and images, and the projections spectacularly build atmosphere and anticipation throughout the performance, leaving the stage clear to be optimized for all the dance action. The images are mapped exactly to the set windows using the Catalyst's masking tools, which are also used to eliminate projector ‘ghosting’ during the blackouts. Over 60% of the video and LX cues are triggered by timecode from the audio track which is run into the WholeHog II console, operated on tour by LX crew Dan Tiley and Rob Anderton. Some audio cues are also running off the Catalyst. Rozee admits that Catalyst has been an eye-opener, "It's an amazing and highly flexible creative tool – and fast – so very quick to use. It’s also a stable platform and there is no way we could have done what we have on the show without it�. PID supplied the fully integrated Catalyst system fully flightcased. On PID, Rozee says “Dealing with them has been brilliant! David March and Nev Bull have given us top support and their knowledge and experience has been invaluable." Dan Tiley comments, "The system has been absolutely rock solid on tour and the line-up at each different venue is incredibly quick considering the complexity of the set. It's so much quicker, simpler and better than having to do it with the projectors!" Oh What A Night's current UK leg has been on the road 23 weeks. It continues until the end of July when the final shows are in Austria.

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