FotoMagico Brings a Touch of Magic to the Theater

Dan Wood of Karelia Software, makers of the Sandvox website-building app, has a lot of experience with local theater productions. His children love to perform, so for the past few years, he has volunteered to design and build sets for their shows.

Tomorrow Youth Rep, one of Dan’s local theater companies, rented a beautifully restored movie theater for a musical production of “The Phantom Tollbooth,” but the movie screen that was used instead of a proper stage presented a challenge for him. After some thought, Dan turned to the idea of virtual sets, where he would project still images and moving videos on the screen behind the actors. The movie theater, with its powerful Sanyo PLC-XF35 computer projector, had the hardware he needed. It even included a convenient computer-to-video connector in the front corner of the audience. But what Dan needed to find was some software to control the projection effects.

Thanks to his friends at Boinx, Dan settled on FotoMagico. “It turns out that FotoMagico was exactly the tool that I needed. I had always known it was useful for presenting slides, but I discovered that its video capabilities were amazing as well,” says Dan.

Dan arranged a number of backdrop photos and movies from his own portfolio, from stock video sources such as VideoBlocks and from motion graphics that another volunteer parent, Donna Eyestone, had created. He arranged them in a timeline and set most of them to continue at mouse click so the scenery would stay on screen until it was time for a scene change. A few animated sequences, such as the “Whether Man” sequence (a series of several “wordles”) would proceed automatically until the end of their song.

Dan made use of FotoMagico’s “Teleprompter” feature in an unusual way. Instead of putting notes on his MacBook’s screen as a prompter to move on to the next slide, he put the cues directly on the screen. When an actor said a certain line or finished a song, or when the music and lights indicated a scene change, the notes would indicate when it was time to move onto the next scene.

“It was important that everything we needed be in those Teleprompter notes,” says Dan. “The person advancing the scenes doesn’t have time to follow along in the script. It’s dark, and of course if an actor flubs a line, the show must go on. It’s handy to have the left and right arrow keys there to move back or ahead in case something unexpected happens on stage.”

Dan especially loved the transitions in FotoMagico. “I had initially looked at using Apple’s Keynote,” Dan says, “but when you cross-dissolve from one slide with a video to another with video, the video freezes during the transition. Not with FotoMagico!”

Dan used the same technique to create the backdrop for Tomorrow Youth Rep’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” this past May. Check out the slideshow of the images they used as their backdrop here!