Computer Graphics World

JUNE 2010

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Projection/Digital Sets ■ ■ ■ ■ says. So, he began modeling London in Cin- ema 4D. But, a month into the project, the credit crunch hit, and a major backer pulled out without warning. Dudley decided to wait for new backers, but Bailey couldn’t resist an o˜ er to direct a body of work for the Royal Shakespeare Company. “I took a gamble,” Dudley says. “I kept my diary open. I decided I couldn’t miss this opportunity by being unavailable.” When production resumed with a new director in January 2009, the team had only until April 26 to create the show for the Lon- don opening. “We were working all hours,” Dudley says. When his work—which includ- ed costume design and f tting, the physical set, and the 360-degree CGI video—became too exhausting, he and O’Neill brought in three people to help. Altogether, they created, among other sequences, 400 square miles of virtual London displayed on 15,000 square feet of screen. Immersive Theater Dudley had met O’Neill at MacExpo 2002 in London. “It was the most mysterious week,” Dudley says. “I had bought Version 1 of Photoshop in 1990, and after 10 years, knew I was trying to push it further than it could go; I was using plug-ins to simulate 3D art.” So, when he happened across the Maxon stand at the expo, he asked O’Neill, who worked for Maxon at the time, if he could use the software to design stage scenery. “I was amazed,” Dudley says. “In seconds he built a stage set and put in lights. He had controlled light hitting the set. I bought it at the stand.” ˛ e next day Stoppard asked Dudley if he could do 75 scenes for “Utopia” that would take an audience from 1820s Russia to Paris and London. “It was a movie that happened to be on a stage,” Dudley says. Dudley spent the next f ve days in one-on- one classes with O’Neill, and kept him on call after. “I would recommend this to any- one who needs to learn in a hurry,” Dudley says. “Lay out the money and do it. I made rapid progress.” When O’Neill left Maxon to become a freelance artist, Dudley was quick to hire him for his projects. Originally, Dudley had planned to use the 3D software only to help him design stage sets. “I wasn’t particularly excited about pro- jection,” he says. “I had done plays with still projection using big glass slides, but they were sort of dead. ˛ ey never had the same imme- diacy as the actor.” But as he played with the program, Dudley began to create simple animated sequences. And one day, he watched his son playing Bug- The digital projection of Captain Hook’s ship that surrounds the action on the stage below immerses the audience in a much bigger environment than the small stage would allow. Renowned stage designer William Dudley uses computer graphics to send theater audiences flying over London and diving underwater for the cinematic live theater production of Peter Pan By Barbara Robertson Photos by Kevin Berne. June 2010 19

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