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XL Video helps Phantom celebrate birthday

Ian McMurray 24 October 2011
XL Video helps Phantom celebrate birthday

XL Video has supplied LED screens, video projection, IMAG camera system and HD playback and control systems, together with crew, for the spectacular celebration event marking 25 years of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s "Phantom of the Opera" musical, produced by Cameron Macintosh and staged at London’s Royal Albert Hall (RAH).

The overall creative brief was to keep the show’s look and feel faithful to the late Maria Björnson’s original Phantom design which is hugely loved and respected worldwide. However, the use of digital scenery elements was vital in adapting the show to work smoothly and slickly in the 5,500 capacity RAH, as were certain classic set pieces like the moving bridge and the opera house Proscenium arch.

The video was split into two sections. Upstage, above the raised central orchestra platform was a 20 metre by 10 metre grey sharks-tooth gauze; projecting onto this were 10 overlaid Barco FLM HD20 20K projectors located in the Grand Tier boxes.

Below, upstage on stage floor level, were nine 4.5m high x 2-3m wide tracking set panels filled with a total of 75 square metres of XL’s Pixled F11 LED screen. The five inner panels moved into a series of different entrance and exit positions for cast and scenery trucks to move on and off stage.

All video content was played in via two Catalyst media servers, one feeding projection and one for LED screens. All the images were controlled and output via a Barco Encore screen management system.

XL supplied 5 HD cameras for show content. These were used for IMAG projection onto the projection surface both during the main show and a gala section after the end of the final show. This featured a reprise of classic production numbers like "Phantom of the Opera" and "Music of the Night", speeches and appearances by past cast members including the original leads, Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford.

Onstage, one of the two HD mini cams was positioned behind and shooting through the middle of the centre LED screen panel for a reverse shot of the stage and auditorium for specific show designed shots, and another was mounted on the set just below the conductor position for another reverse shot effect of the RAH.

Phantom of The Opera first opened in London’s West End at the 1,200-seat Her Majesty’s Theatre on October 9th 1986, with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman as the principals. It is still there, more than 10,000 performances later. It opened on Broadway on January 26th 1988 and has delivered over 9,800 performances, gaining the accolade of longest-running show ever. Dozens of productions are being staged currently, including in Budapest, Hungary, Las Vegas, USA and Kyoto, Japan, with one planned next year in South Africa.

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