Projection Mapping 5,000 Years of Chinese History

Published: September 1, 2015

Rarely is a video projection viewed as a performer

In the case of Shen Yun Performing Arts‘ celebration of China’s history, however, the projectors perform in conjunction—and lock step—with the dancers, symphony and conductor.

That’s the way it has to be. With 5,000 years of diverse historical settings—from capturing of ancient myths and deities to fighting monks and religious traditions—the rapidly changing projection mapped background scenes are critical characters in the performance.

“When our conductor looks up over his baton, he sees where all the orchestra members are in following him, where the dancers are and that they are in tempo, and what is about to happen on the projection in order to get the precise moment—of synching all three elements—timed just right,” says Mark Abbott, one of Shen Yun Performing Arts’ production managers.

“The interaction between the dancers on stage and the imagery is what audience members most often comment about with regards to projection,” says Abbott.

So choosing a projection solution was a lot like casting a lead actor. In this case, Shen Yun had to replace a performer that wasn’t cutting it.

Shen Yun initially tried rear projection, but the traveling performance group found that most of the theaters it went to didn’t have favorable conditions for these configurations.

“Most of the time our projectors are doing front projection duties from somewhere in the audience seats, so the heat output, noise and machine profile are all important to us. Put simply, since we have switched to [Digital Projection], we can sell more seats because they block less of the audience’s view due to their lower profile,” says Abbott.

The footprint difference is significant, says Jeff Schneider, Digital Projection Inc.‘s (DPI) manager of partner relations and Northeast sales. “The old projectors ate up double the amount of seats in the balcony of many theaters based on size and noise.”

Specifically, Shen Yun now uses DPI TITAN Super Quad projectors. Abbott adds that the switch allows them to “squeeze more lumens out of fewer watts, in a smaller package.”

“The TITAN Quad 4 lamp configuration gives the comfort of redundancy while only consuming 1,860 watts,” Schneider says, explaining that that’s less than two thirds the consumption of Shen Yun’s previous solution.

See Shen Yun’s background imagery in action in this trailer:

Meanwhile, the weight difference between the new DPI projectors and what Shen Yun had been using was “huge,” says Schneider.

“The TITAN Super Quad weighs just under 40kg, about 60kg less than many others on the market. For the performers and staff that produce about 100 shows in five months, light weight and easy setup are imperative,” Abbott says.

“Often, we have to quickly set up the performance or strike it quickly at night, so the lightness and easy setup of the DPI projectors is a great advantage, and something we certainly appreciate when we’re carrying them halfway up the third set of balcony stairs.”

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