We met up early January to plan logistics. Technicians needed to be booked as did equipment. Constrction of the box had to be worked out as did final editing of films and sorting out a runnung order. Responsibilities such as audience ushering, lighting and running AV were to be decided. Additionally, an invite needed to be made early January, as were a Facebook page and other publicity material.
I spent a great deal of time in the Digital Media Centre when I returned. I had an issue with image quality and couldn't understand why. I had set the camera correctly and the file resolution was high. When speaking to technician Mariana, she mentioned you had to pan really slowly to stay in focus and a ball/socket tripod is better for panning shots (I hadn't used one.) She thought the problem may also have arisen when exporting the film, resulting in diminished quality. I had converted the original files as I wasn't sure exactly which I could use, so I saved in two different formats, .mov and .MTS. Mariana's solution was to save the panning shots from the source file (.MTS) onto a portable hard drive before transferring over to a Digital Media Centre Mac, as there I could use the program Adobe After Effects and tweak to get a smoother panning shot. This really helped improve the image quality.
The week before the show saw the group writing blurb to accompany the press release, setting up Facebook links, inviting family and friends by email and putting up posters. A booking system was organised for the performances. Final touches to film editing, offering advice on editing choices of material and a discussion about how we were going to present the work. We all drew our ideas on paper then talked the group through them. On reflection, I feel part of the success of this group was continually talking through ideas. Now settled on the box idea to project our films, we had to think about how we would work in practical terms with the audience in the box space, the choreography of the performers, the audience and health and safety considerations.
It felt at this stage we had half of the show organised, in terms of our personal films being edited and publicity organised. Now we had to firm up the presentation of our work trying out ideas in the theatre setting.
We spent a lot of time thinking as a group about how all the films talked to each other and ways of linking each others work, even though it may not be immediately apparent. Playing our films on laptops and arranging them in different orders then seeing the result was a helpful group exercise as it assisted in finalising the running order.
Projection had to be carefully thought through. We were using a total of five projectors and had to ensure no overlap with the images. The scale of the projection also had to be considered. Questions such as will the audience be/stay in the box? Will the box break up? Will the audience be able to walk around images? What is being suspended? Also to be worked through: people/actions/movements. A couple of films were outside the main structure (the box) and the tracing paper became the unifying material between all the works. Michael, the Theatre tutor, went carefully over the transitions from film to film with the group, ensuring we all knew what we were doing at each stage, which tightened everything up and helped build confidence. This was the first time I had worked in this kind of space and there was a learning curve regarding the language used. For example, at first I didn't know what a 'flying pole' was.
During one of the final production meetings we spoke individually about what we would include if we could add objects. Could we link our work somehow through the use of objects? It was pointed out that if we were to show only the films we made, it would resemble a fine art exhibition, but where was the theatre element? I hadn't considered objects up to this point, but as we spoke the idea of creating a shrine formed in my mind. I thought of people leaving mementos as they passed the shrine. I quickly made a 'shrine' to go with my film before the run through and it was clear the choreography of my scene would need to be tightened up. People weren't sure where they were going at times. I was getting worried at this point.
During the feedback session after the first run through, it was suggested I should get rid of the boxes I had brought in to use as a sort of makeshift alter, as they were neither one thing nor another and ar too small to be an alter. It was suggested I use the floor, placing my objects on the ground in front of my tracing paper screen. This immediately worked much better. I had been doubting the inclusion of the boxes and this was a workable solution. Others in the group helpfully brought in photographs and memento’s which could be left at the shrine, linking the different works. It was an interesting proposition to fill a large theatre space with work. Creating a sense of community, a gathering. Audience interaction - the audience becomes a procesion to the shrine, sense of belonging...numinous.
Fortunately Digital Theatre tutor, Dougie and his students were available to help out with technical problems relating to my film. On the first run through I noticed my film needed brightened; it was too dark, the image was stretched. Sound was also a problem; it was very low and it couldn't be synched to the main speakers without a lot of extension wires and rigging. On the second run through, Mark, (the technician) lent me his speakers which sounded much better than the AV store ones I had sourced.
As the choreography of the show, cues and timings were still rough around the edges a couple of days before the perfomance we decided as a group to come in early in the remaining mornings and stay late if neccessary for the much needed rehearsal. As the project progressed and the deadline drew closer, the time commitment increased: glitches needed ironing out.
There were lots of challenges on this project. At one point I was challenged by the other fine art student about my work: why should mine be outside, not in the box? If all the work had been projected onto the box, it would have been a fine art project with no theatre element. Putting work outside the box brought in elements of space and movement; the audience had to move around the space.
Thinking about using the large 3D, 360 degree space of the theatre was new to me. Constructing sets within a theatre space setting and working with theatre technicians, opened up to me the possibilities with presenting work. Working out ideas through Theatre tutor Michael's exercises was beneficial in drawing different ideas into a cohesive whole towards the end of the project. Adding objects to bring another element to the work was discussed, as was amalgamating the digital and the performance.
For documentation of the performance, I enlisted the help of fellow MFA student Elena for one performance and I had a friend record a later show. Looking back over what was filmed I'm wondering if it can be used as documentation as the camera work is very wobbly and the camera keeps going out of focus. The camera rarely sets on one shot, making it difficult to tell what's going on. My friend concentrated on filming the projected images instead of the actual performance, which was frustrating as I had given direction. Speaking to artist Julia Bardsley about this, she advised filming/photographing during a dress rehearsal, so there was more control, which I think is good advice.
In terms of strengths and weaknesses on this project, my admin/social network skills need polishing and this will be achieved with practice and having to do more things in this vein. I managed to send an incomprehensible group email invite which consisted of gobbledegook with an attachment, which was embarrassing. However, strengths were that I contributed a lot to the publicity material accompanying the exhibition, drawing our ideas into a concise whole, theatre coming from a different perspective than fine art. Strengths also included working together as a team for the entire project even though this was difficult with nine different opinions. It was beneficial appointing roles at the beginning of the project. We listened to each others ideas throughout the process, which I think was our success in a demanding project. There was the odd tense moment in the run up to the performance but we handled it.