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  • Writer's pictureRavi Swami

Handel's Messiah, St Martins in The Fields, 2021

Late 2019, besides being a time when many were unaware of how the following year up to the present would unfold due to the COVID 19 pandemic, was an additional salutary lesson in over-reaching myself and promising more than I could realistically deliver as a one-man operation.

I'd been contacted by a former client for whom I'd provided storyboarding for a theatrical project - The Wizard of Oz - some years previously and for the most part I think the client was satisfied with the work, taking into consideration the requirements.

This time the client reached out to see if I would be able to tackle something altogether more demanding given my skills in other areas besides storyboarding, and if I was unavailable or unsure, to suggest some other people who might be up for the job.

The bar had been set very high for this particular project since it was based on another very well-known film property transported to the stage and examples existed of other interpretations of the sequence that I by then had volunteered to create, where time and money had been no object.

However I soon learned that theatrical projects very often don't have the time or budget that films often do and the need to recoup the high investment on people and resources exerts a great deal of pressure, with shows being mounted and disappearing just as quickly as audiences fail to materialize.

This means that anyone involved in the creative aspects has to hit the ground running and if one solution doesn't work another has to be sought, so flexibility - or rather agility - and regular communication are crucial to avoid budgets spiraling and careful pre-planning from collapsing.

In short, I failed to deliver, via a combination of not having the right tools and technology capable of handling what was quite an ambitious sequence at the climax of the show and another artist had to be bought in at the eleventh hour to create the work.

A year + later I put myself forward for another "interactive" - ie not quite the passive experience of watching a film - project since the initial requirement was for someone with some experience of creating animation using the Procreate app in the iPad Pro, and since I have some experience in using it, in particular on the "Miles Davis" animation, I felt it was something I could handle (pardon the pun...) without too much of a learning curve.

It turned out to be for a projection-mapping project and while it was to be my first experience of creating graphics for projection-mapping, this type of application for graphics and animation is quite interesting and a few jobs in the past have touched on these areas.

The schedule was tight - 2 weeks to cover a long-ish segment of Handel's Messiah working with a small team and where the director, Nina Dunn, would be both creating assets with the team and managing the whole project from end to end, coordinating the projection of the graphics according to a live performance in St Martins In The Fields during Easter week, so in a sense it was not far off from a theatrical experience from a logistical point of view.

This time the technological aspects were not so much as issue as the volume of work and, since everyone was working remotely, making sure that the sequences made full use of the projection-mapping process alongside the complex design requirements, in this case animating the rather abstract illustrations from the St Johns Bible by Donald Jackson.

So, bearing in mind my previous experience in a similar arena, I approached it with a combination of apprehension and excitement and this time agreed to only take on as much work as I could reasonably handle and to ensure that whatever I did work on met with the director's approval and sign-off.

That said, I'm not sure how the final piece turned out and how much had to be changed, so it will be interesting to view the end result this Easter week on the 8th April : Handel's Messiah, St Martin's In the Fields, April 8th, 2021

Client: Nina Dunn / SomethingGraphic

Technique : Animation in Procreate app / iPadPro and Adobe After EffectsCC.

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