Performing arts students at Boston’s Emerson College cracked open their books this year to study something new: Digital lighting by way of High End Systems DL.2 Digital Lights and a Road Hog console.
The books were actually instruction manuals. The new equipment was acquired just in time for their production of Twilight Los Angeles, 1992 by Anna Deavere Smith.
“We learned using the manual and by trial and error,” said Scott Pinkney, Associate Professor of Lighting Design. “We set up the units in the lobby of one of our theatres and the students and I experimented with them over the course of a week before they were loaded into the theatre. We needed to learn them fast, as we were going directly into a show with them. There is still a great deal to learn about their capabilities.”
The DL.2s “fit the need perfectly,” Pinkney said. “We needed to project video in many different locations for Twilight Los Angeles, 1992. The images needed to be archival footage, effects and character ‘titles’ throughout the play, moving seamlessly from one to another.”
Projection designer Seaghan McKay created custom content. “We used actual footage of the LA riots as well as graphics created by the projection designer. Additionally, we used effects generated by the DL.2s themselves,” Pinkney said.
The DL.2 allowed the students to do things they couldn’t do previously in their productions. “The DL.2s allowed us the flexibility to insert projections into the visual picture at any point and in any location. We had only used fixed projectors prior to Twilight Los Angeles, 1992 and were hampered by the limitation to only one physical location for the projection.”
The DL.2s’ on-board cameras - which work in the dark using infrared technology - were employed as a major moment of impact. “At the end of the play, as a metaphor for all of us being responsible for the condition of our world, we turned the cameras on the audience, slowly panning as the actors filled the stage. It was a very powerful moment!”
The department has used them in just this one production, having had them only two months. However, they are scheduled to be used in the three largest productions in their season next year.
“We enjoyed having the Road Hog and the students learned a great deal using it. The students were working within their production assignments, but we are proposing a projection/production class to be added to the curriculum in the near future.”
Credits: Directed by Benny Sato Ambush Scenery by Jeffery Eichert Costumes by Chloe Goldberg Lighting by Scott Pinkney Projections by Seaghan McKay