Anastasia Digital Scenery Shines

Anastasia Digital Scenery Shines

Edward Shafer directed Anastasia at Olathe East High School and used a 7,000 lumens projector to beautifully replace the backdrop and highlight the animations of Aaron Rhyne's Scenic Projections.

Anastasia: The Musical
Olathe East High School
Edward Shafer

Here are the details:

Digital Scenery Use
Backdrop replacement and animation
Surface Size
42’ x 20’
Surface Material
Cycloroma and Scrim, we used the scrim for the Act Curtain and location titles.
Projector Details
7,000 lumens; .038 throw ratio lens; hung 13 feet, 6 inches from the surface and 38 feet in the air
On an iMac in the stage left wing

Staging/blocking advice: 

I would definitely keep everything downstage as much as possible. This will help keep lighting at a steeper beam angle and shadows off the image. I would use blocking and choreography that coincides with the animation. The moving images help create engaging movement that can be used as a great tool for choreography and/or scene transitions. Use that to your advantage. When you first get your projection package go through each scene and note the direction each slides moves so you can block/choreograph accordingly. I would also take note of color and shapes used in the images. Then, design your show with shapes and colors that match. For example, the Anastasia package has a recurring window motif that we incorporated into our permanent set design.

Advice for lighting with digital scenery: 

As you get closer to the projection surface, use more top and side lighting. We used lighting trees in the wings to light the actors up stage when needed. This helped keep the lighting from bleeding onto the projection surface. It will also help eliminate bounce off of the stage floor. As stated previously, we kept most action down stage and utilized our front of house positions for the majority of the lighting. If you can keep most action downstage it will allow you to keep the beam angles steeper and provide less upstage bounce. We also put our spots in the front of house positions. Doing this allowed our spot operators to illuminate the actors without spilling onto the back of the cyc.

Advice to theatremakers:

We hung the projector high to keep actors’ shadows from hitting the images. I would definitely recommend a short throw lens so you can keep the projector as close to your surface as possible. This will make your images brighter and help eliminate shadows.

Production Images

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Director's Biography

Edward Shafer has been the Director of Theatre at Olathe East High School in Olathe, KS since 2010. Prior to teaching at Olathe East, Edward taught for three years at Westlake High School in Waldorf, MD. He is also the Thespian Sponsor for International Thespian Troupe 5078. Edward has been Events Coordinator for Kansas Thespians since 2016 and currently sits on the Executive Board. During his time at Olathe East, the theatre program has been nominated for 106 Starlight Blue Star Awards including Outstanding Overall Production in 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, and 2020. Since 2010, Edward has had 70 students qualify for the National Individual Events competition, with 16 of those students earing a Superior rating. In 2018, Edward was selected as the artistic director for the Kansas All-State Thespian Production of Bring it On, which performed at both the Kansas Thespian Festival and at the International Thespian Festival in 2019. Edward was awarded the "Heart of the Arts" award in 2020 by the Kansas State High School Activities Association for his ability to provide meaningful theatre opportunities during the Covid-19 pandemic. Edward studied Theatre and Film at California State University Northridge and the University of Kansas where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Film and a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education. In 2012, Edward completed his master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Kansas. His wife, Meghann Shafer, teaches German at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, MO. They have two children, Hannah and Oliver.