How to Train Your Dragon – Live Projections from Matt Lock on Vimeo.

The thread is not-so-subtly woven into what we cover on this site: 3D projection has ushered in a new age of illusion and spectacle. With brighter, higher-definition imagery and perfectly-aligned three-dimensional forced-perspective, the results can be immersive fantasy. After years of low-fidelity mash-ups and cold abstraction, it may be that some artists gravitate to this new zeitgeist for a welcome change of pace.

But whether their work is expressive in abstraction or in representation, there’s something to what’s happening in projection. And it can fill lovers of light with childlike wonder.

You know – like taking a ride on a dragon.

And so, here’s a look at How to Train Your Dragon, the live stage show. It’s remarkable how much they do with pretty simple projection surfaces: the proscenium, the rectangular walls here, are still enough to create a theatrical spectacle. (Indeed, just using those walls verbatim means they leave enough to the imagination – avoiding the uncanny valley of projection effects, perhaps?) It’s a great-looking show, and here’s its story — thanks to my sister Anne for sending me this one.

In March 2012, Global Creatures teamed with Dreamworks to launch a live theatrical show based on the film “How To Train Your Dragon.” Spinifex Group was contracted to develop the graphic content for the entire show. The brief was to take the movie from its original look and portray it in a more illustrative style.
The challenges focused around timing the animation to match the choreography of the actors and dragons, while also maintaining a sense of scale and balance between the animatronic creatures and the projected content. In addition, the animation needed to move as one seamless scene across both the wall and floor, serving as a complete theatre set–a first of its kind.
I designed and animated the sections showcased in this video.
Additional Credits:
3D – Nick Hunter and Pepin Portingale
Matte painting and Illustration elements – Dan Potra and David Woodland

If any of the artists are reading – or if you’re working with similar theatrical contexts, whether with dragons or something of another nature altogether – we’d love to hear from you.