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Wicked musical projection design Torsten Blackwood/AFP/GettyImages
"Wicked" projection designer Elaine McCarthy is a featured speaker at LDI2019.

Monday Musings: Projection Design

I love it when I open one of my favorite mainstream newspapers (okay, I admit, I read them all online now, except when staying at Pat MacKay’s house, where Sunday mornings are devoted to reading the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, section by section…) and find an article about “our” designers, the folks we have been covering in Live Design (and its predecessors dating back to Theatre Crafts) for decades. This past Saturday, the Los Angeles Times published an article titled “Projection design is reinventing theater, and not just Broadway. National tours too.”

Quite a mouthful, but you get the idea. And I agree, that projection has added an extra layer of visual texture, information, and in many cases, beauty, to stage productions. All of the designers mentioned have been covered in our pages, or have spoken at our annual LDI conference, which once again this year puts an accent on ones and zeros, pixels and projection mapping. Leading projection designers such as Elaine McCarthy, Sven Ortel, and Olivia Sebesky are on the roster, along with a group of university profs, also projection or media designers in their own right, who teach full-day and two-day courses that equal anything you’d get on a university level.

This year for example, things kick off in the LDInstitute with a series of hands-on sessions aimed for projection designers, content creators, media server programmers, etc. These include hands-on software classes, so check them all out, but highlights include Advanced Projection Design Solutions: Isadora, taught by Alex Oliszewski, associate professor of Media Design for Live Performance and Installation at The Ohio State University, whose specialization is in theatrical media design + devising. His technical knowledge includes sound, lighting, stagecraft, and performance in video, musical, dance, play, and interactive forms. He will also teach a class in the basics of projection content creation.

Matthew Ragan, projection designer and director of software/content creation at Madison Square Garden Company, by way of the Obscura Digital software team, teaches a basic TouchDesigner class, as well as a Manual Projection Mapping Inside TouchDesigner class, new this year.

Jeromy Hopgood, designer, author, and Professor of Entertainment Design & Technology at Eastern Michigan University, teaches a course in QLab4 + Projection (Advanced), and Matt Smith, assistant professor at UT Austin, teaches another brand-new to LDI course: 3D Object Workflow for Previsualization.

LDI2019 also comprises our annual Projection Mapping Summit; Hands-on Media Server and Video Processing courses; and our Projection & Digital Media sessions, from getting started in the business to the next generation of trailblazers and top designers, all in the LDInnovation Conference!

All of this training, coupled with the projection companies and cutting-edge products on the LDI show floor, prove that a sexy combination of technology, creativity, and good storytelling makes for successful projections. Will digital imagery replace actual scenery? Well perhaps not, but it certainly is an art form worth exploring!

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