Case Study

StageScreen at the Symphony

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The StageScreen takes center stage at the Hilbert Circle Theater in downtown Indianapolis for a showing of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” with the soundtrack performed live by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

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The StageScreen takes center stage at the Hilbert Circle Theater in downtown Indianapolis for a showing of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” with the soundtrack performed live by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

StageScreen is often chosen for scale, ease of setup, and versatility, all due to the sturdy interchangeable frame pieces. Although known for its toughness and durability, one of the best thing about a Draper StageScreen modular projection screen is the versatility. The StageScreen is at home in many different circumstances—from outdoor shows to indoor meetings—and survives multiple set-ups and tear-downs in trying conditions. But you can also add "elegant" to the list of adjectives that can be applied. After all, one must be elegant for an evening at the symphony, right?

Pat McGillen is a freelance systems integrator who works with Emmy-award-winning producer John Goberman of PGM Productions, setting up live movie screenings around the world. But these aren’t just ordinary movie events. These screenings feature a symphony orchestra that plays the soundtrack live. "I will do about 30-40 venues a year, with sometimes up to six performances per venue," McGillen said. "Also, we’ve had as many as eight shows happening in eight different cities on the same weekend, so sometimes it’s quite a bit to manage!"

It’s a good thing McGillen uses the StageScreen for these productions. The screen’s modular nature makes it the perfect fit. "It is very agile for my setups, as I carry three or four different front fabrics, and just configure the frame for the fabric I need for each show," McGillen said, adding that being able to keep frame pieces in stock and build multiple screens from them makes his job much easier. "Sometimes I need 4:3, sometimes 16:9, or 2.2:1 aspect ratio. I’ve just purchased more corners and frame, so now I can use more than one fabric at once! But if I need to, I can always call a rental house that carries StageScreen and get more frame as needed when I have more than two shows at a time." McGillen explained that a typical setup involves a rack of video and audio playback equipment for synchronizing playback of two copies of the film. He always has a backup running at the same time, just in case something goes wrong.

"The conductor has a pair of monitors in front of him to keep the orchestra in time with the movie. A pair of 12k-18k lumen DLP projectors are used to project the image in HD quality onto the Draper Stagescreen, which I have used pretty much exclusively for the past three years," said McGillen, who uses only black-backed front projection surfaces for these productions. "This eliminates the need to attach black plastic to the back to minimize light bleed from downlights and music stand lights, which is very important to keep the contrast ratio high on the screen." With multiple shows of a complicated nature—and with tight space onstage—the StageScreen also offers another big advantage to McGillen: ease of setup.

"Because I work with a lot of different crews, I like the captive hardware—there are no cranks and bolts to lose." And according to McGillen, those crews are always impressed. "The stagehands always comment on how they like not having to stretch snaps on the frame, and how there are no hinges to get pinched with." McGillen said there are currently several full films—including The Wizard of Oz, Psycho, Vertigo, Casablanca, Singin’ in the Rain, Bride of Frankenstein, Ivan the Terrible and Alexander Nevsky—on the PGM schedule, along with some clip shows.

"These shows are a great way for a younger generation to get interested in your local orchestra or symphony," he said. "Check out your local symphony schedule for upcoming shows, or go to which has a great listing of these types of shows worldwide. Chances are, I’ll be the man behind the curtain!"

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