Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Holly Meyer-Dymny

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Holly Meyer-Dymny trained in projection design with Cameron Davis at Studio 180 Theatre in Toronto

Part 1: December 26, 2018

I want to make my paintings dance. This is the thought that I come back to time and time again when asked, “Why projection design?” I’m a set, lighting, and projection designer with a background in fine arts and painting. With projection design, I see a way to create dynamic images in a new integrated way.

For the past two years or so I’ve been futzing around with the design programs that I know; Photoshop, ProCreate, FinalCutPro, QLab, etc. I created some animations in Photoshop and learned some basic video editing and I love the designs that I have created, but I also know that there are easier and more responsive ways of creating this work. QLab is great, but there’s this really cool, almost mythical sounding program called Isadora and I want to know its secrets.

With this in mind I looked into the Professional Theatre Training Program and reached out to Cameron Davis as a mentor. It turned out that he has a show in January/February of 2019 that would be the perfect opportunity, the Studio 180 production of Oslo. With this mentorship, I will be working through the design process for the show as well as learning the technology that Cameron uses to create his designs. I’ll be learning new programs for creating content, but also more about system design (how to choose, set-up, focus projectors, all that fun stuff.)

I’m excited to work with Cameron and learn from him. I love his designs because they always work seamlessly with the rest of the production. He has worked with companies across Canada and the States, including the Shaw Festival and has a background in teaching Projection Design at the National Theatre School. The team on Oslo is incredible and I have the added benefit of working with them while learning from such a cool projection designer.

I have no idea what the next six weeks have in store for me, but I am so excited work with Cameron. There is so much to learn in so little time.  I look forward to developing new skills, strengthening and broadening my practice, and to diving even further into the world that is projection design.

Part 2: January 23, 2019

In the first stage of this apprenticeship I have been observing rehearsals, attending production meetings, and working through the nitty gritty of learning new software.

Oslo is an incredible project to be able to learn on. The script, cast, and creative team are phenomenal which makes rehearsals really wonderful to watch. Each rehearsal reveals how as designers we can support the work on stage; what images (still, video, or texture) are necessary and how they will integrate into the show during tech. However, at this point, it is mostly observing and preparing all of the elements that will come together during tech and previews.

In preparation for tech, I have been learning new software so that I can work within Cameron’s work-flow and assist during tech. As I work through learning the basics of Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Isadora I can see why they are such effective tools. Premiere Pro and After Effects are part of the same Adobe family as Photoshop and get along really well together within the same universe. Wonderful tools for creating content and I look forward to exploring them even further. I am also learning why Isadora is considered such a powerhouse software. It allows for on-the-fly editing and has many tools for creating simple objects and motion, it is not just a playback software.

I have also been assisting in some content research. Oslo calls for some news footage from 1992/1993 which actually proves somewhat difficult to find. We are so used to the internet being able to provide most content these days, and most news programs have public archives, but they really only go back as far as 2005. It is truly amazing to be reminded that the internet is so new and we have already become so reliant and accustomed to its convenience. I was able to go through library archives and find numerous newspaper clippings from 1992 and 1993 but the video content may require more creativity.

I’m truly enjoying building new skills and look forward to seeing how it all comes together. The cast is running all three acts, the final production meeting approaches, and tech week looms large ahead.

Part 3: February 20, 2019

Oslo is open and I learned so much. The greatest thing about learning is realizing that there is so much more of it to do.

Being able to shadow Cameron through this process and ask an incessant amount of questions has been such an honor and privilege.  Watching this beautiful design unfold was a very informative experience and I know that I will be taking those skills and techniques I learned forward into my next wave of work. Cam was incredibly patient as I asked a million questions about every piece of programming he did, why he did it, why he did it that way.

Although I did not learn every detail of Isadora programming (which will take years of practice and experimentation) I did fall in love with it and its beautiful responsive nature in the design process. I cannot wait to continue to play and discover my own style within this new programming language. 

I can also say that this opportunity to shadow a senior designer and learn more about projection design came together at a perfect time, I have just booked my largest projection design yet and can’t wait to put these new skills to the test. Always more to learn!

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is March 1, 2019.

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

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