A very interesting mix of Live Theater, Still Photography and Video. How big is big?

Image from Zach Scott Production. 

Everything changes all the time. When I first started photographing for Zachary Scott Theater we used medium format cameras and black and white film. The reason? None of the local newspapers, magazines or tabloids ran stuff in color. Color film was slow and grainy and hard to use under mixed stage lights. But with quick reflexes and some darkroom work the medium format Tri-X film could produce nice prints for the media. Last night some of dress rehearsal documentation was done with two pint sized Sony Nex 7 cameras.

While the theater has used projectors for quite some time the show, Mad Beat Hip and Gone, is the first production we've done that uses screens of this size (over 30 by 30 feet) and so ubiquitously integrates video and still photographic imagery into the DNA of the play.  The image above shows the size of the screen in relation to the actors very well. 
 This image incorporates video on the background screen. 
Apparent sharpness in motion comes from persistence of vision.
Since we've "frozen" a video frame it appears 
less sharp that it  appears in the continuity of the video....

The incorporation of moving video, some in slow motion, as well as still images post processed to mimic the look of the time (1950's), added so much visual depth to an already well written play. 

We shot the still images and the video inserts with a Sony a99 Digital camera and a Sony 70-200mm 2.8G lens. The black and white effect was done, in camera, during the initial capture (no turning back!) and the lighting for the stills and videos was done with LED panels modified with a large, one stop silk over the main light.

As more directors take advantage of new technologies (getting the images this large with a short distance behind the screen required that we use two projectors and stitch the images across both machines...) we'll definitely see more and more uses of creative stills and video to add layers of complexity, meaning, texture and nuance to performances. It's becoming a hybrid world for us out there. We might as well just call ourselves, "Creative Content Providers."

Mad Beat Hip and Gone, now at Zach Scott Theater.


  1. It looks like it would be a tonne of fun to be involved in something like this Kirk - I'm very jealous!

  2. That's crazy big work!

  3. Thanks for the view from the audience. It looks like the stage lighting and rear projection play well together.

    1. Michael, it's a seamless integration to the eye. Cameras have a harder time with the difference in illumination and color differences.

  4. That's really, really big.

    That might be the biggest projection I've seen in live theatre outside the work of Robert Lepage. Although you've got a ways to go before you catch up with this: http://lacaserne.net/index2.php/exmachina/gallery/the_image_mill/#num=content-745&id=album-21

  5. For sure an interesting great visual experience. Both from director and artists side and from photographer side.


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