Members of the musical performance phenomenon Blue Man Group are putting a lightweight screen, digiTHIN, to groundbreaking use when they appear to materialise from a video projection in their latest production. The screens, developed by international video specialist displayLED under its digiLED brand, are worn by the artists who perform rigorous routines animated by breathtaking visual effects.
The group attracts 47,000 people per week to shows in New York, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, with a new Las Vegas production now open at Monte Carlo Resort and Casino.
According to BMG show director Bill Swartz, the effects illustrate the group’s creative idea that a hybrid space exists between real life and the technical world of phones and texts. “We call it 2.5D space,” he says.
The modular 320mm x 160mm digiTHIN tiles are fixed to the performers using magnetic mountings while the 6mm pixel pitch allows the use of high quality imagery on the relatively small surface area of the screens. After initially being used in the New York production, BMG now has digiTHIN in all five of their current productions.
“Blue Man Group has always engaged with emerging technologies and the current wave of LED displays is no exception,” says Swartz. “Resolution and programming capabilities are getting better every year. We have to plan our productions well over a year in advance, so we look for reliability in the product, future availability and how well it functions with the other technology on stage. The digiTHIN tiles are small and modular enough to accommodate several different video 'characters' and effects we're interested in developing further.”
Tom Mudd, displayLED’s Technical Manager, explains, “Blue Man Group had the idea of an animated character that jumped from the video screen into real life. They realised that if they mounted digiTHIN panels on the actor, the moving video display would become part of the character itself. Blue Man’s use of digiTHIN has opened the door to the idea that you can wrap LED around people and stage features.”
Swartz is pleased with the performance of digiTHIN. “Making a system meant for static display into a wearable costume has several challenges including weight, cable management and configuring the tile layout to human shape and scale. We bang the digiTHINs around a good deal, and they take the beating pretty well. I also really like the magnetic mounting.”
The full range of digiLED creative products can be seen at displayLED’s state of the art new Showroom, The Pixel Depot, at the company’s headquarters in Surrey, UK.