CLOSER by Patrick Marber
Produced by Ground Zero Theatre
Lighting, Set and Projection Design by Cimmeron Meyer
Animation, Video Content and Programming by Tyler Klein Longmire
Directed by Kevin McKendrick
@ Vertigo Theatre Studio
March 21 – April 5, 2014
I had the pleasure of being a part of the production team for Ground Zero Theatre’s production of Closer by Patrick Marber, which was produced at the Vertigo Theatre Studio in March of 2014. Under the direction of designer Cimmeron Meyer, I was responsible for creating all the animated and projected video content for the show, and programming the cues into the show computer with QLab 2.
The main challenge of this project was the 3rd scene, in which the two male characters encounter each other in a 1990’s-era internet sex chatroom. The actors type and speak their lines in real time, and the video chat screen projected behind them had to sync up to their lines and action. When a whole scene is animated, it’s a heck of a lot of work to time and cue the video content to the action, especially when cueing off the actors. What this meant for me was creating a 7-minute animation of the whole chatroom sequence in After Effects, then splitting it up into individual cues (each somewhere between 1 – 10 seconds long) in Premiere, then programming the video clips into a seamless ~80 cue sequence in QLab, so the Stage Manager (Kelsey Ledbury) could ride the scene in performance. Actors are never as precise as computer sequences, so you have to program some flexibility in there.
Also fun was animating handwritten titles for each scene, moving and still backgrounds for the scenes themselves (we used a lot of watercolour textures from my private stash of material) and making up custom scene transition animations.
This show had 3 projectors, projecting onto 3 separate screens, so it was a great learning opportunity to deal with video splitter boxes, multiple outputs, video masking, and computer hardware troubleshooting when the animations got too much for our system.
“Everything about this production is first class and that includes Cimmeron Meyer’s set, lighting and excellent video designs, Rebecca Toon’s costumes and Peter Moller’s sound design.” – Louis B. Hobson, Calgary Sun
“Supported by Cimmeron Meyer’s minimalist, stark white set design with mercifully restrained use of video projection, the play certainly has its outstanding moments. The aforementioned online sex prank is pretty much worth a ticket…” – Jessica Goldman, Applause! Meter