Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Flex-Stage - Big vs Little

The topic of the big stage vs the little stage has come up again in circles. Sounds like it's on a few peoples minds.

A solution to satisfy the needs of performers and audience has been bandied about...that of modifying existing big stages so that they become flexible to handle both large and not-so-large acts. When an act does not have the need to the full dimensions of the maximum stage metrics, there would be an option to apply a framing and/or shrinking mechanism: across, up-and-down, as well as stage depth. Just how that would be accomplished will be up to each venue. 

I suspect there will be 2 preset sizes but there could just as well be 3. Performers would be provided with 2 (or 3) stage templates to choose from when creating their act as well as any sort of framing mechanism that would end up being used. 

There is also the possibility of using the stage as a camera in that you could start off big, like an opening establishing shot, and then have a dynamic set-size-change as the performers dance-areas shrinks and we are told to focus on the main dancer (or dancers). And the stage could shrink then expand again and shrink again. That might look cool and really help highlight and magnify what we are seeing, even thought the image size of the dancer is the same.

You sort of do this now when you start out with one dancer and add dancers during the routine. Here we go from small to big. Or we see black-out effects to help focus on 'just the dance'.

Then there are the pros and cons of an auto-cam system that controls what the audience sees, should they opt-in. While I am a strong proponent of at least providing the option, it could end up diluting the 'immersive' feel that is part of the SL experience. That we are ' there'... 'in it'....free to look around at what we want when we want. A cam-controlled event might begin to parallel tv and movies and then are we no longer immersed as in typical SL fashion,  but just watching something akin to tv thru a virtual world platform.

I do think auto-cam is an integral part of big productions where you are trying to convey intimate interactions between players akin the the 2-shot and closeups. There is no way around this if your goal is to tell a story with people-centered dilemmas, as opposed to some action-packed adventure drama spectacle where the 'whole' is always the thing to see. But sometimes we need to know where and when to look at what....without guessing, being wrong, and missing integral story parts because we guessed wrong...Looking left instead of right. 

Well anyhoo...my prediction for SL-2015 in the realm of performance is that we see some bold avant-garde creators address the issue of 'size' and the 'when-where-what' to look at...as an attempt is made to increase the live SL bang-for-the-buck visual.

Lat "Yummy" Lovenkraft