Springloaded: Coppélia Remix
Big Image Helps Set the Scene for New Ballet Ensemble Season’s Premier. Photo by Andrea Zucker Photography.
“We were tenderfoots,” says Joe Mulherin, producer for the New Ballet Ensemble’s Springloaded: Coppélia Remix. Neither Mulherin nor Scenic Designer Terry Twyman had used large format printing on fabric but they decided to consider it for this show because they had a “quicker than average turnaround time” and didn’t have easy access to the shop space needed to handpaint a 40’ X 25’ backdrop.
“As a producer, my job is to deliver the highest quality technical show possible within a budget and schedule,” Mulherin says. Upholding these standards was especially important because this was the first time New Ballet Ensemble had performed in front of a full stage drop. The drop had to help create the perfect setting and it had to be hung no later than the Tuesday of production week. Mulherin and Twyman spoke to a couple of companies before selecting Big Image Systems.
“Michael Murnane, our lighting designer, told us that a number of his clients had had good experiences working with Big Image,” Twyman explains. “Our conversations with Big Image’s staff members were comfortable right away. It seemed like they would be easy to work with and this has proven to be the case.”
Twyman painted a half-inch-to-one-foot scale rendering for the backdrop that was scanned and sent electronically to Big Image Systems. He then worked with Casey Hallas of Big Image to make sure the digital art achieved his artistic vision.
“The rendering is everything,” Twyman says. “What comes back to you is exactly what you send to Big Image, so the increase in scale means you have to pay special attention to luminosity and other details.”
The drop was printed on Big Image’s Infinitus printer in Berlin on Cloth 201 HzN. The roofline of the artwork was contour-cut and scenic netting was glued to the back of the printed fabric. The combined drop was flown from the black scenic netting along its top to create the illusion that the printed section was suspended in midair.
Rendering by Terry Twyman
A short while before NBE’s production week was scheduled to begin Mulherin received a call from Olle Lindqvist, president of Big Image’s U.S. operations.
According to Mulherin, “Olle said Big Image’s production staff felt the scenic netting they had wouldn’t be right for this project. If they ordered the netting they thought was best, Big Image wouldn’t be able to ship the drop until the Monday of production week. That meant that the drop wouldn’t arrive until Wednesday. It was clear Big Image cared that we got the quality we wanted, but this would only give the lighting designer two days to work with the drop and it would cut the rest of the crew short on time, too.”
Fortunately, the proper netting arrived at the Berlin plant on the Friday morning before NBE’s production week. Big Image’s team worked nonstop to install the netting so that the drop could be shipped that day. It arrived in Memphis on Monday, which gave NBE’s lighting designer time to experiment with different effects. After the drop was hung and illuminated, Twyman used paint to retouch some of the existing scenery so that all the colors worked together beautifully.
“This was the epitome of customer service to me,” Mulherin says. “All of this made a big difference in the technical quality of the show. We got what we needed when we needed it. We were able to obtain a big, complicated piece for a fair price.”
Twyman agrees. “Everyone was pleased. New Ballet Ensemble was very happy with the drop because it brought the right vibe to this piece. We are already thinking about how to use Big Image on future shows.”
Photo by Andrea Zucker Photography.