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Abbey Theatre

Portia Coghlan

Projection Design

A 2021 production of the play by Marina Carr.

Denise Gough as Portia Coghlan, with video projections overhead.
Photo by Ross Kavanagh

My work for this involved picking up and running with the early ideas of the director (Caroline Byrne) and set designer (Ciara Stephenson), location recces, two video shoots, edit, post. Stage-side work included 3D set models for projection modeling and pre-vis.

The set included a huge 17m wide cyclorama that was to seamlessy projected on. A single projector wouldn’t have given coverage with the design, so I went with three 12k projectors over the stage which greatly reduced noise in the auditorium but made creating a single blended image more challenging.

Projections on the set

Behind the scenes

Film shoots

Two shoots were required for Portia - an underwater pool shoot, and an exterior location shoot at Belmont, which is the location mentioned in the play itself. I filmed the exterior shoot, but we hired a cinematographer (Lanka Perren) for the pool shoot as I had never filmed seriously underwater before and wasn’t keen on my first time being with Denise Gough. Instead, I was a sort of dolphin for the day, busying myself with trying to make a blue swimming pool black, filming some GoPro footage and reviewing footage from the main camera.

Here’s an informal planning doc I put together for the shoots.

Pool shoot

Exterior shoot

Some sample of the exterior shoot for water textures and some attempts to incorporate items and props mentioned in the text. It’s worth watching the model rowing boat at the end, cos it looks great, particularly with the old trick of shooting with a high framerate. Props to Eimear Murphy at The Abbey for sourcing the boat. Alas it didn’t make it to the stage.

Some clips with Denise reflected in water. All these shots use the movement of water to distort the image - these worked beautifully on the set.