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disguise VFX video set design takes West End ‘Back to the Future’

disguise gx 2 media servers have been powering Notch LC Video files and Notch generative video content for the West End stage production of Back to the Future

disguise has revealed details of its work on the VFX video set design for the West End stage production of the 80s classic Back to the Future. The company used three disguise gx 2 media servers powering Notch LC Video files and Notch generative video content.

“The video design had two main roles in the show. We exploded the ordinary world of the show into big and fantastical worlds inspired by the science fiction of both 1985 and 1955 when Doc broke into moments of creative inspiration,” explained FRAY Studio co-founder Finn Ross, who together with co-founder Adam Young, created the show’s video elements.

“When Marty got into the car, we moved the world along with the DeLorean (the time-travelling car in the show). Video was a massive part of the show delivered through a large 3.9mm ROE Visual Diamond LED wall upstage, with Brompton Technology LED processors, and projections onto a gauze downstage, which allowed us to wrap the action in the video.”

Jon Lyle of Ammonite, who did the show’s system design, explains that Back to the Future had a design requiring traditional playback and live-generated content. “With a long-standing partnership, and the show’s specific requirements, disguise was the obvious choice for us,” he said. “With disguise, the advantage of the product was as much about the support as the actual product. We could start the musical confident that the server would respond and develop to our needs.”

FRAY Studio made extensive use of pre-visualisation within disguise to develop the moving car sequences. “It provided an excellent way to share ideas for how video and scenery could work together,” Ross explains.

Freelance Programmer Emily Malone, who programmed the original production in Manchester, added, “Back to the Future was a technically busy and complex show for all departments. Having a short time in the venue to get the show ready meant that the ability to visualise and program offline became more important than ever. Being able to immerse yourself completely within an accurate 3D representation of the set as you’re sequencing is invaluable, and something we really couldn’t do without.”

FRAY also made extensive use of the Notch LC codec. The team had a high-resolution LED wall and a lot of content with chromic metal objects moving around within multi-colour environments. The codec allowed them “to get astounding gradients quite unlike anything they have ever been able to achieve before”.