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Architectural scale projection at Radio City Music Hall creates an “immersive experience” for the famous Christmas show

Visual Acuity, an independent media and design consultancy, and batwin+robin, a New York-based multimedia design company, are doing an architectural scale projection onto Radio City Music Hall’s art deco interior to create an immersive experience for the historic New York theater’s 2011 Christmas show.

For Visual Acuity, of Brighton, UK, the project has been more than a year in the making. The company provided consulting, design and testing of the new architectural scale projection for the holiday show produced by Madison Square Garden Entertainment.

The “2011 Christmas Spectacular” uses architectural scale projection mapped onto the Radio City Music Hall’s proscenium arch and art deco interior, giving the audience the feeling that they are being immersed in an array of sound, lighting, theatrical and pyrotechnic effects as each scene transforms to the next.

The show uses a number of technological innovations, which include large-scale projection from Digital Projection, as well as media serving, edge blending and warping from 7thSense Design.

Blair Parkin, managing director at Visual Acuity, said “The project takes architectural scale projection, the newest application of high-power projection and warp and blend media servers, and applies it to the live stage and theater environment.”

The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show is a historic production. It began in 1933 when the Music Hall presented lavish live stage shows along with the latest Hollywood feature films. The first Christmas show was produced December 21, 1933, along with the RKO musical movie Flying Down to Rio, and ran for two weeks. The Music Hall’s stage producer Leon Leonidoff and designer Vincente Minnelli created the show.

Two of the scenes — the Rockettes’ performance of “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” choreographed by their founder, Russell Markert, and “The Living Nativity” — have continued in every edition of the annual show through to the present day.

In its review of the new projection technology, the “New York Times” praised one of the numbers, viewed through 3-D glasses, but said, “The choreography has enough drive and coherence to stand up without the projections.”

While the “Times” review said the new high-tech show has outdone itself, “The only number in the show that matches, and outclasses, the new one is the oldest — the signature “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” first performed in 1933.