Backstage presents graduation showcase
Friday, 31 May 2019
media-clownpaul-kalina-twirlingThe world premiere of Media Clown will take place at the Prague Quadrennial 2019 (photo: Daniel Fine)
UK - Wakefield-based Backstage Academy recently presented a graduation showcase, which saw third-year students assessed across five presentations.
The students were assessed in a project-based environment, with each team working under a project manager. The event was supported by many industry partners, some of whom had arrived fresh from attending PLASA Focus Leeds.
Vice-principal Rachel Nicholson explained the idea of designing real world concepts - effectively transforming black box studio/stages into coruscating jewels - had grown out of the Live Visual Design & Production course. “It’s the first time we’ve presented the work in this fashion,” she confirms. “The team looked back at last year and decided they wanted more scope to visualise. Our live visual design course has always been project based, so we adapted that to the other courses - which seemed the most natural thing in the world to do.”
All shows had come entirely from the imagination of students, she said. “They are exploring the cutting edge of new technology and what can be done, but at the same time, it’s also a validation of the confidence placed in the students by the lecturers. Neither could we have done it without the support, passion and enthusiasm of our industry partners. The Graduation Showcase is just one day but it represents three years’ hard work.” In fact, many of those industry partners had already set up training days for students in advance, in order to build operational skills with the platforms.
The five distinct concepts, staged by students from Backstage’s three degree courses - Live Events Production, Live Visual Design & Production and Stage & Production Management - were designed to challenge the audience in some instances, and invite them into the conversation in others.
They were able to connect with advanced motion tracking control, full sensory immersion in a simulated VR ‘CAVE’ type environment (but with Sennheiser headsets rather than stereoscopic 3D specs). Elsewhere, in Studio 001, Production Park’s arena sized rehearsal facility, there was a new take on a typical festival stage, while in the Academy’s central studios, moving sound objects in space via d&b audiotechnik’s Soundscape was the order of the day, putting the audience at the centre and removing sound far from its traditional L/R stereo paradigm.

Another highly original feature was the 30-minute one-man Media Clown silent show - fully motion tracked using infra-red beacons worn by the personnel. Production managed by Kate Barker, this was described by technical director and co-creator Shannon Harvey, as “the biggest collision and mash up of creative ideas I have ever been involved with”.
Currently still in the workshop stage, the world premiere of Media Clown will take place at the Prague Quadrennial 2019 as part of the Student Festival.
The other presentations comprised Diamond Stage (PM Emily Popham), a take on a festival stage, featuring RCF HDL line array rig and Midas FOH desk; Mood Cube (PM Jessica Miree), immersive 3D environment with projection onto a HoloGauze surface; Reverse In The Round (PM Abby Draisy) and 360° (PMs Luke Deakin and Scott James), showing the properties of Soundscape, using live musicians to move audio objects around in space.
Summarising the experience, one industry partner, Music Tribe’s Joel Perry, stated, “It’s obvious [Backstage Academy] has full industry backing, with all tech companies working together. Being based at Production Park makes this a real-life experience; it’s like a working farm, and as good as any venue. They have access to very high standard kit, and having started at the top end will benefit them further down the line.”
(Jim Evans)

Latest Issue. . .

Tweets from our Friends