Disney’s “Frozen,” the Broadway musical based on the 2013 film – the highest-grossing animated film ever – brings a world of snow, ice and the Northern Lights to the stage with video design by Finn Ross of FRAY Studio and AV support from WorldStage.
Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, the Tony Award-nominated “Frozen” premiered at Broadway’s St. James Theatre earlier this year following an out of town run in Denver in 2017. For this collaboration FRAY tasked WorldStage with supplying a large complement of equipment including state-of-the-art media servers, the latest in laser projection, and a cutting edge LED wall to help transform the set of “Frozen” into a magical, icy domain.
“WorldStage was a great partner throughout the process from the first workshops of ‘Frozen’ to opening night,” says Finn Ross, Co-Founder of FRAY.
“WorldStage supported my first project in the US, ‘Les Miserables,’” notes Video System Designer Jonathon Lyle. “I’ve worked with WorldStage regularly since then and can always count on their high level of support and knowledge.”
According to WorldStage Account Executive Lars Pedersen, “We provided an extremely large roster of complex video-centric equipment for ‘Frozen,’ which FRAY uses in quite unique ways. WorldStage has been involved with the show from the beginning, participating in a slew of proof-of-concept workshops in the run up to the Denver stint. It’s been amazing to follow the evolution of the production on its path to Broadway.”
WorldStage furnished nine Notch-enabled disguise gx2 media servers to the show, the first time that particular media server has been utilized on Broadway. A ROE Black Pearl 3 12m x 9m LED screen with Brompton processing forms the back wall of the stage that predominantly displays skies and blends into the scenery throughout the show. A custom network topology was designed to facilitate signal distribution and online backup between the processing and the LED panels.
“The disguise media servers drive the upstage LED screen and all of the projection,” says Pedersen. “FRAY was a big early adopter of Notch real-time generative effects, and the gx2s are specifically designed to facilitate playback of Notch content. What the FRAY team achieved on Frozen is pure magic, both from a creative and technical point of view.”
One of the production’s most captivating video effects is Notch’s intricate live rendering of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, displayed across the LED backdrop. The lights are unique and never repeat – they are not on a loop – so no two audiences ever experience exactly the same show. Notch also drives snow effects and much of the animation of the ice textures.
Lyle explains that the ROE Black Pearl 3 LED screen was chosen “for its fantastic color handling, especially in the low end. It is also one of the lighter weight 3.9mm products and fits into a very tight space while not compromising the weight limits of the theater. The partnership with Brompton finished off the package with their fantastic processing and network-based hardware.”
WorldStage also provided 19 Panasonic 4K and WUXGA laser projectors that contribute to the frosty effects, enabling certain components of the production’s massive sets to visually transform from one element to another as Elsa’s icy powers take their striking effect.
Asher Robinson is the engineer who installed the system. At WorldStage Randy Briggs and Bryan Dominick are the Project Managers for “Frozen.”
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