Monster Visions for Acosta’s new Don Quixote

Birmingham Royal Ballet and Sadler’s Wells

“a gothic video design by Nina Dunn, like something out of a Tim Burton film”

The Times

This was to be Carlos Acosta’s first new show for Birmingham Royal Ballet in his new role as their Artistic Director – originally planned for a 2020 premiere – working with Tim Hatley (Set and Costumes) and Peter Mumford (Lighting). His desire was to create something spectacular for Don Quixote’s visions of the famous monster windmill and the magical garden of the Dryads, so the team agreed that projection felt like the right approach. Carlos approached Nina to work on the video design for Don Quixote after their previous collaboration in 2020.

The animation comes as a surprise, evolving out of what initially appears to be a vibrantly painted scenic cloth with a silhouetted scenic piece. Across Act 2, it slowly becomes clear that it is projection as the animation of the sunset begins that lead us to the storm and eventual transformation fo the windmill into terrifying monsters.

“The windmills have been replaced by Nina Dunn’s clever video projections, the sails morphing into massive skeletal hands” 

The Financial Times

The painterly look chose for the first sequence of Act 2 was carried through to garden of the dryads with projection also lighting the beautiful painted scenic gauze with an animated texture that brings it to life in a truly magical way.

Act II’s gypsy-encampment scene – complete with requisite windmill – really gives Don Quixote (the sweetly deluded old would-be knight errant who staggers through the tale) something to be scared of. And his subsequent vision scene, the garden of the Dryads is marvellous, a woodland idyll with the ever-so-slightly eerie beauty of The Singing Ringing Tree. What’s more, the whole thing looks remarkably substantial for a touring production: cleverly done. 

The Telegraph

As a Touring production, the system had to be clever and powerful to obtain full cyc coverage in a limited space. 

The rig for the cyc consisted of 4 x 20k Epson laser projectors. We had just over 3m of space upstage in some venues, so we used ultra wide periscope lenses.

The projectors were rigged perpendicular to the plastic so as to keep keystoning to a minimum. This helped keep the content sharp and brightness high across the 16mx16m surface. After carrying out some materials testing, the plastic we chose was Gerriets Optilux for its high gain and contrast.

The front projection rig consisted of 2 x 15k Epson laser projectors overlaid to cover the willow gauze and the floor where our work combined with Peter Mumford’s rich floor colours to create a more immersive feel to the space. These units were chosen for their small size, weight and quietness. 

The control system is on Disguise Solo Meida Servers. We also have a control pc and remote access which is something we put on all our shows.

Having completed a successful tour at the start of 2022, Don Quixote is coming to Sadler’s Wells during the first week of July.

The Team

Nina Dunn – Video Design and Animation

Harrison Cooke – Technical Associate / Production Video Engineer

Luigi Sardi – Disguise programmer

Matt Somerville – Video Engineer

Scott Smith- Touring technician for The Birmingham Royal Ballet

Photo credits for this post: Nina Dunn / Johan Perrsson

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