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Pete’s Big TVs Supplies ‘Dreamgirls’ Tour

PLSN Staff • Projection Connection News • March 18, 2013

NEW CASTLE, DE – Video equipment rental company Pete’s Big TVs is providing the video equipment, cameras and d3 media servers for the new 2013 production of the “Dreamgirls” tour. Working with MB Productions, Pete’s Big TVs is providing the main set of the show, comprised of 400 digiLED MC15 (15 mm) LED video panels in three screens, which all track and fly in different configurations. Howard Werner of Lightswitch designed the media content.

More details from Pete’s Big TVs (http://www.facebook.com/videoequipmentrental):

NEW CASTLE, DE – Video equipment rental company Pete’s Big TVs is providing the video equipment, cameras and d3 media servers for the new 2013 production of the “Dreamgirls” tour. “Dreamgirls” kicked off in late December 2012/early January 2013. It tours North America until early June, followed by Japan, with more dates expected.

Working with MB Productions, Pete’s Big TVs is providing the main set of the show, comprised of 400 digiLED MC15 (15 mm) LED video panels in three screens, which all track and fly in different configurations. They are also supplying two d3s from d3 Technologies. More than a media server, the d3s serve as a 3D stage simulator, combining a timeline based sequencer, video playback and video mapper all in one.

Howard Werner of Lightswitch designed the media content and the show system in 2009 when an older production of “Dreamgirls” began an eight-month run in Seoul, Korea.  This new production features the same content, but was readjusted to fit the new LED screen configuration and the use of the d3 media servers, according to Werner.

“Dreamgirls” tells the rags to riches story of a 1960s girl singing group as they make their way to fame and fortune.
“The dream starts out as the girls from Chicago go to the Apollo in New York to expand their careers. The concept is how the media, TV and film exploited them into making them stars, so the cameras, IMAG and other images are there to support the idea,” Werner explains.

There is no other set besides the MC15 LED screens and they are used in 90 percent of the show. It is not “virtual scenery” but a device to move the story along.

Says Werner, “Content is always a storytelling tool. It sets the location of scenes in stylized ways and is also used to support the timing and energy of the ‘on stage’ numbers in the show. There are two types of content: one is supportive of the stage production numbers; at other times it is a storytelling device. The images suggest a backstage or a recording studio and it sets the location for the audience.”

Live action also helps create the content. “We use three cameras – there is a live camera feed through the d3 system and it is used in two numbers in the show,” Werner says.

The digiLED MC15 LED panels selected for this show are in constant demand because of the MC15’s most popular feature: no radio frequency interference, says Pete’s Big TVs VP Guy Benjamin. Other features customers like about the MC15 are its reliability, its light weight – which makes them easy to fly – along with their easy load-in/load-out and set up.  The MC15 can flex into convex or concave shapes and because they are transparent, lighting fixtures and other effects can shine from behind the screen, with the screen grids adding texture to the look.  

The show has received favorable production reviews, such as one from the Arizona Republic news, which said: “The scenic design, which consists almost entirely of tall moving panels of LED lights, is a virtual clinic in how to use digital imagery effectively, producing wow moments when required and fading into the subconscious when not.”

Werner is working with Pete’s Big TVs for the first time. “I’ve known Guy Benjamin for 20-plus years in many capacities, so it’s great to be working with old friends,” he says.

Benjamin says, “We got involved with Dreamgirls through Howard – whom I have known for years – and through Mike Bauder, the production manager with MB Productions.  We began working with Mike on some promotional events for ‘Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark’ (Werner also designed the media content for the Broadway musical). Mike liked our work and hired us for ‘Yo Gabba Gabba’ and ‘Super Why! Live’ tours. We’re happy to be working with both of them on Dreamgirls.”

Other friends involved with the “Dreamgirls” tour include LD Ken Billington, set designer Robin Wagner, director/choreographer Robert Longbottom and executive producer Big League Productions led by Daniel Sher.

“Dreamgirls” originally started on Broadway in 1981, winning Tony Awards for best musical. It was adapted for film in 2006.

Photo: Levi Walker

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