Imagine you’re sitting in an intimate theatre with 140 theater goers, waiting for Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. to begin. You are probably not expecting scenery that includes realistic video to take you on a journey under the sea.
"Ariel swims under the sea, amongst the waves, up to the surface and out to the beach."
This is the ambiance you received if you were in the audience of the Applause Academy’s rendition of Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.
The Applause Academy MA, Inc. located in historic downtown Taunton, MA, is a non-profit, youth theatrical organization. Heidi Stipetic, creative director, focuses on introducing children to onstage performing and backstage technical aspects of theatre through Musical Theater. Applause Academy is a special place for young children. It’s a place where they come to be creative, develop self-esteem, and practice their theatrical and artistic skills. The kids gain hands-on experiences from acting on stage, to scenery production and costume design. It’s a place where kids are encouraged to cultivate the arts within.
Wanting to create a visually stunning setting for The Little Mermaid and future productions, Heidi Stipetic, purchased the ArKaos MediaMaster Pro Video Mapping Software to be used in conjunction with the theater’s 6mm video wall. The challenge was to create a setting that was not only visually stunning, but also created emotion within the audience.
"I wanted the audience to feel like they were part of the story. When Ursula chases Ariel, I wanted the audience to feel like they were a part of the storm." commented Heidi Stipetic.
Purchasing the MediaMaster Pro has opened the door for so much more with regards to set design and the onstage production. We can do so much with video, that couldn’t be done before. The ArKaos MediaMaster Pro brings the Applause Academy productions to life. The theater puts on 18 productions a year. Adding video eliminates painting large scenic backgrounds for our productions. It helps the students to learn to develop scenery using video technology, skills that these students won’t learn at College level due to they type of software they are using.
"I like to have cutting edge technology on my productions. It’s especially important to me that the children learn from this technology." commented Heidi Stipetic.
"The MediaMaster Pro is easy to use, powerful and affordable. It allowed us to transform the background of the production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. What I like best is that it’s controlled by DMX. Once the video content is created, all I have to do I press a button on the control board and the scene comes to life." remarked Heidi Stipetic
21 video backgrounds were developed for Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. Stock footage was purchased and edited together to create the effects of movement, storms, and swimming that created a new dimension for the performance.
"Prince Eric’s ship seemed to float on the sea with video motion."
In this scene, the video started off with the waves crashing against the boat. By adding layers to the video, Applause Academy was able to create rain, lightening, and waves, creating the full effects of being in a storm via moving imagery. It’s so much more than just a backdrop, it’s a piece of scenery! By building the LED wall into the scenery, the background looks cohesive.
Using the Video Mapping Software allowed Applause Academy to transform the show. It helped the production create and tell a compelling rendition of The Little Mermaid. This was the first show that Applause Academy created using video, and they are just scratching the surface of what it is
capable of doing. Since running this production, they have done two others using the ArKaos MediaMaster Pro and have plans to use video differently each time, creating dynamic, compelling and creative backdrops and scenery. The theatre is even looking at creating backdrops that include different images on different screens by breaking out the panels and creating shapes and areas. The possibilities are endless.