Powering Up: Music Video Magic Inside a Power Plant

by Jim Hutchison • in
  • December 2018
  • Projection Mapping
• Created: December 7, 2018

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Epson laser projectors beam imagery within the old building.

Masary Studios Makes Music Video Magic at the Edison Electric Power Plant in South Boston

In the entertainment industry, we often get to make light magic in some amazing venues: arenas like Madison Square Garden; beautiful theaters like the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee; purpose-built venues like the Lake of Dreams at the Wynn in Las Vegas; and often we find ourselves in repurposed, creative places like old warehouses, abandoned buildings turned into gathering places — and even old power plants. The latter was part of the latest project by Masary Studios of Boston, who put on a performance of epic proportions in South Boston’s Edison Electric Power Plant.

‡‡         Harnessing a Compact Beast

Masary Studios leveraged an Epson laser projector for the project, a projector with a 2.5 million-to-one contrast ratio, boasting zero lumens in their black levels. The Epson Pro L1100U Laser WUXGA 3LCD Projector with 4K Enhancement is a beast in a small package — 6,000 lumens in color and white output levels, invisible black levels, a crisp image surface and a solid-state laser light source at 20,000 hours make this projector something every production company and studio should demo.

Masary Studios created a live elemental video of their unique performance piece of two percussionists, a dancer, live video projection that changed with the piece and the incredible structures inside the original Edison Electric Power Plant in South Boston. Peripherique is Masary Studios’ touring trio work created with original musical and visual compositions played live by Maria Finkelmeier and Ryan Edwards, with video production by Masary Studios’ Sam Okerstrom-Lang and choreography by Tai Jimenez. The trio work was debuted as the finale for Pindrop Sessions at the Aeronaut Brewing taproom in Somerville, MA in May 2018.

‡‡         Two Music Video Shoots

“We had the opportunity to get involved in shooting two music videos inside the old Boston Edison Power Plant,” says Okerstrom-Lang, who serves as Masary Studio’s media artist and video projection designer. “The idea behind the two music videos was to be able to access different areas inside the power plant and project crisp, high definition video onto the incredible structure of the power plant itself,” Okerstrom-Lang continues. “One of the greatest things about using the Epson projector was the ability to power down, move the projector to another section of the plant and instantly power back up without waiting for lamp cool-down and restrike like in most high output projectors using a lamp.”

Okerstrom-Lang and co-creators Maria Finkelmeier and Ryan Edwards created an environment inside of the Edison Electric Power Plant complex for their performance piece, Peripherique, and utilized live video projections that changed with the timbre and rhythm of the music. Okerstrom-Lang used a rig of two Epson Pro L1100U Laser WUXGA 3LCD projectors with short-throw lenses to project the moving environmental imagery onto the unique surfaces inside the Edison Power Plant complex. Resolume Arena was the used to drive playback of the content, triggered with MIDI controllers. “Everything was filmed live for the videos, and having the ability to trigger clips live and change content quickly was paramount to the success of the project, says Okerstrom-Lang. “From start to finish, we ran for about 12 hours, moving locations and tearing down the projector rig just to quickly set it up in the next location,” he adds, crediting the Epson projectors for their help in meeting the time constraints of the project.

The performers were surrounded with synched media.

‡‡         Black Blacks, Vivid Colors

One of the key features of the Epson L1100U laser projectors that drove Masary Studios to utilize the units was the very low level of black intensity, a key asset since the inside of the Edison Plant was so dark.

“In terms of brightness and contrast, they were incredible light sources with incredible detail,” Okerstrom-Lang states. “The blacks are actually black and colors are incredibly vivid, and there is no shortage of strong color from the Pro L1100U laser projectors. One of the best things about these Epson laser projectors is the black level.

“Compared to some of the discharge lamp projectors out there, the Epson gave us absolutely incredible black levels, especially inside the very dark space of the Edison Power Plant,” Okerstrom-Lang adds. “The light levels inside the plant were very low for the project, and the Epson laser projector produces a near invisible black level, where some projectors give a more grey, washed out black.

“The Epson projectors were essential to the essence of the project, and the cameras would have picked up the raster of the projector if it weren’t for the invisible black levels of the Epson projectors,” Okerstrom-Lang continues. “We were really able to achieve the magic that we wanted in the space by having this seamless video environment created by the Epson L1100U units. The sharpness of the Epson projectors also led to the overall look of the project by giving us beautiful, crisp imagery, making the content really stand out in tandem with the performers, the architecture and the overall ambiance we were striving to create.”

For more information, visit www.masarystudios.com and www.epson.com.

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