It’s “An Act of God” when The Almighty revamps the Ten Commandments, and WorldStage helps set the celestial scene for the new Broadway comedy starring Jim Parsons at Studio 54 through August 2.
WorldStage provided three Panasonic PT-DZ21K 20,000-lumen 3-chip DLP projectors outfitted with three Panasonic ET-D75LE90 ultra short-throw lenses to overcome a slew of technical and logistical challenges including the requirement to create an extremely large image size with an incredibly limited throw distance. The projectors display views of the cosmos and sky in an oval window in the room where God conducts his hilarious heavenly talk show with a captive audience. The new play was written by 13-time Emmy Award winner David Javerbaum and directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello.
The set, by designer Scott Pask, consists of a rather monumental room with an oval cut-out revealing celestial views ranging from the creation of the cosmos to light and airy blue skies. A large screen is placed behind the window to serve as the projection display surface.
“Part of the magic of the set,” says Projection Designer Peter Nigrini, “is that the audience can look from any angle and see the sky in the window. That means creating an image close to 50-feet wide in an impossibly small amount of space. The entire illusion of the sky depends on a high-quality image and a trick of depth. We were all a little nervous about how this could work. The positioning of the projector as it relates to the screen must adhere to very strict parameters with zero tolerance for error.”
Nigrini has teamed with WorldStage for years, most recently on Anne Hathaway’s one-woman play, “Grounded,” at the Public Theater. “An Act of God,” with its need for big-screen image display and short-throw projection, posed very unique challenges, including access and turnaround time. “Once the set was installed access to the grid was difficult, and there wasn’t a moment to spare: Studio 54 was committed to ‘Cabaret’ before we came in,” says Nigrini. “Only two weeks after it closed we had to be ready for an audience.”
Working closely with Nigrini Worldstage was able to test and validate in advance the viability of an atypical solution that solved the problems of almost zero throw distance and a stipulated image size of 48×28 feet. “The Panasonic 20,000-lumen projectors are nice and bright, and the new lens is one of the more innovative achievements we’ve seen in a while,” says World Stage Account Executive Lars Pedersen.
“Panasonic makes a similar type lens for their smaller installation line of projectors, the ET-DLE030, which we’ve been using with great success,” Pedersen reports. “That gave us the confidence we could make it work with the new ultra-short throw lenses built for their large-venue projectors.” WorldStage is the first to deploy the Panasonic ET-D75LE90 ultra short-throw lens with the Panasonic PT-DZ21K on Broadway.
“The first time I saw them installed I couldn’t see how it would be possible,” Nigrini admits. “But that’s what WorldStage does: solves problems. It’s a great technical achievement.
“WorldStage always has the newest and best in technology, but more importantly they have the knowledge of what can work for us,” he says. “There aren’t many people out there who can look at my proposals and understand what a theater projection designer is drawing. But WorldStage can. They don’t just pull equipment I ask for, they collaborate with me.”
WorldStage also provided the flat panel video display embedded into the large prop Ten Commandments tablet, which now resembles a game-show board.
WorldStage Inc., the company created by the merger of Scharff Weisberg Inc and Video Applications Inc, continues a thirty-year legacy of providing clients the widest variety of entertainment technology coupled with conscientious and imaginative engineering services. WorldStage provides audio, video and lighting equipment and services to the event, theatrical, broadcast and brand experience markets nationally and internationally.