Pixera joins latest Black Rider production
Friday, 10 July 2020
blackriderhp2481joseph-rubenThe Theater Bielefeld's latest production uses cutting edge AV technology (photo © Joseph Ruben)
Austria - The new production of the award-winning musical theatre extravaganza Black Rider at the Theater Bielefeld in Wallern uses Pixera media server systems, 4K projectors and tracking technology for realising a unique stage experience.
Since its original premiere in the year 1990, The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets has managed to combine classical culture, postmodernism and a music soundtrack to entertain audiences around the globe.
Robert Wilson's artistic vision, coupled with the narrative skills of William S. Burroughs and the music of Tom Waits, laid the foundation for the enduring popularity of this avant-gardist work.
The Theater Bielefeld's latest production by Michael Heicks uses cutting edge AV technology that helps Sascha Vredenburg's evocative video content come to life on stage.
Within record time, the theatre developed its own health and safety plan as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding a number of innovative measures on top of government regulations, in order to make it possible for rehearsals to continue.
Some of these measures include an audio setup that allows for the Theater Bielefeld's own orchestra to play live music whilst being physically present in a different part of the premises, a few hundred meters away from the actual stage. On a smaller scale, changes to the pre-covid mode of operations also include individually allocated battery boxes to minimize the necessary physical contact between cast and technicians.
The play itself is loosely based on the German Freischütz legend, in which a pact with the devil literally takes centre stage. The ways in which this archetypal theme relates to modern individuals and notions of addiction become apparent in a highly entertaining way, with lots of dark humour added for good measure.
For the new production, scheduled to celebrate its premiere on the 12 September, the musical direction lies in the hands of William Ward Murta.
Five large projection surfaces act as the visual centrepieces of the stage design created by Michael Heicks.
A Digital Projection Titan Laser 33000 4K-UHD projector is used for displaying the inspiring video content on said surfaces.
Three of the projection surfaces (12,62 x 11m; 10,73 x 6,68m; 8,21 x 10,47m) are moving on stage independently of one another, whilst the video content continues to be projected onto them at the same time.
Falko Heidemann, head of the audio & visual department at the theatre, comments, “Looking at the requirements we quickly realised that a standard show programming approach alone wouldn’t really suffice. It was also relatively clear from the beginning, that an optical tracking system would deliver the best results in our case.”
Tracking the projection surfaces was ultimately realised using an OptiTrack system with eight cameras and 16 active markers built into the stage. The OptiTrack setup communicates directly with Pixera via the Stage Precision tracking system.
The Theater Bielefeld’s video team, Sabrina Treptow and Lena Thimm, received some additional support from the media server specialist Benjamin Müller, who elaborates on the reasons why Pixera was chosen for the Black Rider production:
“The main Pixera interface is basically split into three main access points, that make it super easy for users to deal with different aspects of a programmed show independently of one another and in real-time. Because of the ease with which one can manage the Pixera API, Falko Heidemann and me were able to integrate the Stage Precision tracking system setup in record time and to realise the director’s vision.”
(Jim Evans)

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