Catalyst for Glyndebourne
Video solutions specialist SNP Productions supplied two Catalyst V4 PRO media servers and a complete projection package to Glyndebourne Opera for their innovative production of Knight Crew. The edgy new opera for young people was the latest initiative from Glyndebourne Education. It placed youth and the community centre stage in a new commission from Glyndebourne’s first composer-in-residence, Julian Philips, and award-winning author, Nicky Singer. A cast of 100 young people joined Glyndebourne's professional team of singers, musicians and artists to perform the opera on three nights last week on the main stage at the famous Sussex, UK, Opera House.
Photo: David Illman
It was the first time that a Catalyst system has been used at Glyndebourne, and for SNP Productions Simon Pugsley, the show represented a 'full circle' moment in his career .... harking back to 1994 when he received his first "break" there. “I'm very proud to have supplied Glyndebourne with a complete projection package and its first Catalyst system for Knight Crew,” Simon states.
Knight Crew's projection system was specified by Finn Ross, who also created all the special content that ran during the show. The stunning set was designed by Es Devlin, complimented with exquisite moody lighting by Bruno Poet and incisive direction by John Fulljames.
The Catalyst servers each included a Matrox Triple-Head-2-Go, offering 3 outputs to 3 projectors and a programming screen. Each output has a distribution amplifier allowing for local monitoring and connection to the projector. The servers were situated just off-stage, with a KVM extender supplied to allow the programming and operation to be done from the FOH position.
Photo: David Illman
SNP also supplied a Hog iPC for programming and 2 Artistic Licence Datalynx units for ArtNet distribution between the Catalyst and the 3 x Barco CLM R10+ projectors, which were supplied, complete with lenses and DVI fibre links. In total the 2 servers provided 6 projection outputs - all housed in one of SNP's custom Catalyst System flightcases.
Ross was asked aboard the project by Fulljames with whom he has worked before, and this was their second show together. He was given a brief to produce the content which involved a lot of underwater footage, filmed in a tank in Clapham. There was also plenty of footage of the cast members fighting one another, and he had to create a new alphabet based on graffiti plus some other off-beat graphics which provided an exciting challenge.
Much of it was created with the idea of bringing out colours onstage in what he describes as "darkly beautiful & harsh footage". By the time he had finalised and edited this down, his show file contained about 80Gb of content. Finn also made the decision to hire the projection system from SNP and describes the service from the Milton Keynes based company as "excellent and highly knowledgeable". Mesmer and SNP enjoy a close working relationship, and last summer SNP supplied Catalyst hardware to Mesmer's Sven Ortel for the Mariinsky Opera's Ring Cycle, and a Catalyst system for Theatre de Complicite's Shun-Kin.
Two of the Knight Crew Barco projectors were rigged at front of house, either side of centre stage and used to project onto different areas of the large metal revolving set structure, fed content from one of the Catalysts. Using the Catalyst's masking facilities, Ross could quickly and easily build cues covering a selection of different surface areas or treat the whole set piece as one canvas. This took up a total of 32 video layers.
The other Catalyst was dedicated to one - seminally important - cue which was achieved using three small projectors ensconced in the footlights trough. These projected footage of children onto the t-shirts of the mothers’ chorus, who were lined up along the front of the stage singing an aria. This effect consumed 15 layers on the Catalyst, and having a machine specially dedicated to it was the easiest way of achieving exactly what was wanted.
Photo: David Illman
SNP's Simon Pugsley had his first industry "break" in 1994, thanks to Glyndebourne Technical Director Dave Locker, and worked as a 'stage hand' (crew) for 3 seasons from 1994 – 1996.
His first 11 hour call was for the overnight changeover from 'Le Nozze di Figaro' to Graham Vick’s 'Don Giovanni’ - a huge set with a pit of fire! He remembers the break-neck 30 second FULL stage scene changes during 'Peter Grimes' with its massive set trucks being 'run' offstage and huge heavy floor cloths being rolled out in a matter of seconds. So impressive and speedy were the scene changes that sometimes they received a round of applause from the audience!
Invited back in 1995, he worked on the night crew doing changeovers between the shows, and then in 1996 to work on the 'day' crew for the opera’s festival season. He also project managed shows for Glyndebourne Education and Glyndebourne Youth Opera before taking a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (97-99), gaining a degree in Stage Management and Technical Theatre.