Wednesday, 25 November 2009

It's Christmasssss!!

I've been so busy with work over the last couple of weeks that it came as a surprise when I realised that in only four weeks time its Christmas Day. HELP!

I was actually reminded about 'this time of the year' when I received a phone call from C4's Paul O'Grady show asking if Joe Pasquale wouldn't mind doing a pre-record next week as they were doing the panto round ups - about five minutes later an email arrived from GMTV requesting images and information for their round up too - surely they don't share the same production office? I've also received a request from British Forces radio and I'm currently putting the last minute touches together for an exciting New Year competition for Heart FM.

Yes it's Christmas, all that glitters is gold and the countdown to PANTO is well and truly on. I know that Michael Harrison (panto Director) is busy up North directing two more of his productions before coming here to direct Sleeping Beauty. Ray Quinn ends his run in Grease in the West End this weekend in readiness for rehearsals and Joe Pasquale is due to complete his recent tour. Oh and there's our panto Dame, the lovely Ceri Dupree, probably knee deep in sequins and feathers and packing 22 costumes as we speak. And yes fellow bloggers, our Christmas tree is now up in the foyer, twinkling lights and all.

Rehearsals start in just over a week.

I think a trip to Birmingham's German Market is imminent - glass of mulled wine and a frankfurter anyone?

Friday, 13 November 2009

The 3D revolution

Yesterday was a very exciting day for me. You see, I was lucky enough to be invited up to Middlesborough to see behind the scenes of Amazing Interactives, the company who are creating the 3D sequences in our pantomime Sleeping Beauty. With me was a journalist and photographer from Birmingham Mail who were covering the trip and doing some interviews.

Following a long train journey and taxi ride we arrived at the studios situated on a huge industrial estate in Middlesborough. We were met by AI's Creative Director Tim Dear who ushered us passed a very busy room full of people sitting at computers, down a very long corridor full of posters and into a room that would be our base for the day.

A few minutes later Michael Harrison, the panto director arrived and we all got down to chatting about 3D and the work involved in producing it. We looked at original storyboards for the sequences featuring Joe Pasquale and I found out that it takes one month to complete a one minute sequence of film (each sequence is approx 6 mins long) and that Joe will be doing a lot of jumping around as he interacts with the animation.

The company have 3 cinemas in the building and we were taken into the small cinema with a computer and screen all set up. "Do you want to see the sequences now?" Tim said. And yes readers, we were given a very private sneak preview of just what audiences will be seeing in a few weeks time. (Oh I love this job!). Michael gave a running commentary telling us where Joe would have to be standing, going through the dialogue and jokes from the script. All I can say is that if you came to Aladdin two years ago 3D has improved so much since then. I'm not going to give much away in this blog because it would spoil the surprise but there's some great scenes where Joe has to climb castle walls, jump over things and fight off the baddies - and there's even a character that attempts to steal sweets from the audience.

After the preview we got to meet some of Tim's creative team who were busy working on the scenes for Sleeping Beauty. In a corner of the room one chap was sitting at his computer which had loads of numbers and weird signs. "This is where the 3D sequence starts as a load of numbers - get this wrong and well.....". Next to him someone was working on improving the look of the vines whilst the Mail photographer took loads of pics. I was in heaven.

Tim, a very quietly spoken guy, is probably one of the nicest people I've met, very enthusiastic about his trade and who tells me he's currently working with a local hospital to bring 3D into this area especially for patients. This is the future.

All good things have to come to an end so they say and sadly we had to head back to get our train - but not before I spotted a large brown box which had just been delivered - "Oh that's our new 3D TV". Oh joy! I'd only seen pictures of them in gadget mags - and here was a real one. Mark my words we'll all have a 3D TV in our homes in a few years time but until then I thoroughly recommend the 3D in Sleeping Beauty.

Click here to view interview with Tim Dears talking about the 3D process.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Family panto is family affair

The wonderful Ria Jones is the latest to join the cast of Sleeping Beauty. Ria, who was last seen at the Hippodrome in Witches of Eastwick, the national tour of Anything Goes and as Mrs Overall in the UK tour of Acorn Antiques will play the role of Carabosse, the wicked fairy.

I've seen Ria in all three of these productions at the Hippodrome and I never fail to enjoy her performance. She has such presence on stage and a powerhouse of a voice - well, being from Wales I wouldn't expect anything less.

And Ria has a very talented brother too in the guise of Keri Dupree who plays the role of Lady Passionella. I've met these guys a couple of times now and they strike me as both having a wicked sense of humour. Me thinks there will be jolly japes and much mirth backstage over the Christmas period.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Am very excited today because I've arranged to go to Middlesborough to see for myself how the 3D is going to be put together for the pantomime. I remember seeing the 3D here a couple of years ago and was really surprised at the amazing quality and even more impressed with the fact that the panto cast interact with the images - proof that 3D is pretty impressive in a theatre setting.

I rememer sitting watching the show when a giant button came flying out of the stage and floated above me and the audience were invited to press the button to get rid of the baddie - a very small child got up and stood in the middle of the aisle put his hand in the air and started to press down with all his might on what he thought he could see in front of him - just pure magic.

Anyway I'll be taking the flip camera with me and posting stuff on Facebook and Twitter so you can see behind the scenes of the Sleeing Beauty 3D.