Multimedia — Audio Visual Design & Production

Performance is the focal point of what's on this site. So using photography, video, sound and graphic design to support and promote all kinds of presentations evolved as a natural extension of the work I do in each of those areas. On this page I have included illustrations and descriptions of how that has been applied. For many projects the work is just one of several elements. That can mean it doesn't have a standalone life of its own and may not come into full existence until it too is performed in and around a complete performance. Having said that, the few examples included here show how these audio and visual tools and devices have been used to support performance.

Video Sound Design Photography Graphics & Content

Video

Promotional video for 'Oleanna'

The discipline of a short promotional video usually brings many multimedia elements together. As part of the pre-show promotion for a presentation of David Mamet's Oleanna by Vermilion Productions, directed by Brian Molloy, I created this short two-minute video for the website and various social media sites. I played the university professor and Aoibhinn Finnegan played his young student.

A second video recorded with the cast and the production team followed through with more information about the play and the people behind it. Both videos are hosted at the website I built for Vermilion Productions.

 

 
Promotional video for 'King Lear'

I produced this short promotional video as part of the Mill Theatre’s advance sales campaign, aimed at secondary schools, for Shakespeare's King Lear. The play wais directed by Geoff O'Keeffe for Mill Productions and was on stage from 29 September to 23 October 2015.

This production followed presentations of Macbeth in 2013 and Othello in 2014, for which I produced a teaching resource video (see below) that included interviews with some of the people who were involved on and off stage. That 30min teaching resource video is available here on my Vimeo channel.

Further details on the King Lear production are on the dlr Mill Theatre website.

I played the Duke of Cornwall and the Doctor. Behind the scenes I worked on Sound Design and Photography for the cover of the programme and publicity.

 

 
Promotional video for 'Macbeth'

Dark, deep and meaningfull it may be, but this play by Shakespeare has everything that keeps him top of the literary favourites list - compelling characters in conflict within great stories - and the way he tells them.

Benjamin Jonson, the playwright, poet and literary critic of the seventeenth century said of Shakespeare, ‘He was not of an age, but for all time’ - a quote I used at the end of this one minute video to promote Macbeth, directed by Geoff O’Keeffe for Mill Productions.

In addition to playing Lennox and the Doctor, I designed and produced the sound and digital visual elements for the play. These included recorded video representations of Lady Macduff's son and the messenger projected onto parts of the set in Act 4 Scene 2. Necessity drove that invention around the mother to address the difficulty of having a child actor present for two performances each day. The show in the morning was for school groups, usually followed by an older audience in the evening.

 

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Teaching Resource video for 'Othello'

My work on a presentation of Shakespeare's Othello by Mill Productions in October 2014 included music composed and arranged for the opening and closing of each of the two parts of the play and key dramatic moments throughout.

The production company asked me to put together a teaching resource on video for distribution to the 56 schools that attended performances of Othello in the Mill Theatre. The 30 minute video is based around a series of interviews with six of the people who were involved in the play. The interviews, with the Director, one of the actors and other members of the team behind the scenes, focus on the creative and technical approaches applied at the planning, rehearsal and performance phases of the production.

The extract from the Othello video shown here covers my work on Sound Design & Music. The full 30min teaching resource video is available here on my Vimeo channel.

 

Promotional interview for 'Pull Down a Horseman'

The Office of Public Works kindly made the facilities at St Enda's Park available for the recording of an interview with the director of Pull Down a Horseman, Conor O'Malley. The assistance of the Curator of the Pearse Museum at St Enda's, Brian Crowley, was greatly appreciated.

In this interview Conor talks about the play and puts it in the wider context of political drama, the characters of Pearse and Connolly, and the modern relevance of a play written 50 years after the events of 1916 and 50 years before these performances in 2016.

The interview was recorded in Patrick Pearse's study and the video shows other parts of the building and the grounds, which were home to the Irish school established by Pearse and which are now home to the Pearse Museum.

For more about the play and the production visit Dublin Lyric Players

 
Promotional video for 'Hamlet'

The fourth Shakespeare play presented by Mill Productions, following presentations of Macbeth, Othello and King Lear in previous years, was Hamlet in 2016, directed once again by Geoff O'Keeffe.

This three and a half minute video was part of a campaign to promote the production to schools. The play was on stage in the dlr Mill Theatre, Dundrum, Dublin from 5 to 28 October 2016.

The role of Hamlet was played by Shane O'Regan, who played The Fool in the 2015 production of King Lear.

Further details about Hamlet are on the dlr Mill Theatre website.

 

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Sound Design

What we hear may influence what we 'see' — it certainly affects what we perceive. A study by MIT in the 1980s showed that, while up to a quarter of the population may be indifferent to the quality of sound presented to them, many TV viewers rated programming with better audio as having higher picture quality. Sony also found that a majority of people perceive the same television screen as better when surrounded by higher quality sound.

Show Cue System
Show Cue System used to control
sound and projected visuals

For shows such as Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Glass Menagerie, Calendar Girls, James and the Giant Peach and Fantastic Mr Fox, I've arranged the management of multimedia cues (audio and visual) by programming the sequences in computer controlled systems. Software applications such as Show Cue System (SCS) on Windows and QLab on Mac OS allow fine control over what is seen and heard in a live performance.

Donal Ryan's acclaimed novel, The Spinning Heart, was adapted for the stage and directed by Paul Brennan for performances in 2016 and 2017. The soundscape blended music and effects to bridge the connections between the 20 monologues delivered by an ensemble of 10 actors and complement the mood and atmosphere of each. In Good Evening Mr Collins, written by Tom MacIntyre and directed Padraic McIntyre, sound was used with lighting to create the playful, surreal and dark atmospheres that surround the characters from the Ireland of the War of Independence (1919-1921). The soundscape was a mix of effects and music orchestrated with the movements of the actors. The play delves into the fascinating matrix of relationships that Michael Collins had with Éamon de Valera, and also with three women in his life: Moya Llewelyn Davies, Kitty Kiernan and Lady Hazel Lavery. The sound design for King Lear reflected the light and shade of the story, its characters and the approach taken by the director. It was designed to frame, link and integrate the many threads in this great play and to support the actors in their work. An example is the storm, which is symbolic of the explosive destruction of order and reason and also a metaphor for what happens to Lear's mind. In this production it had lots of inevitable thunder, wind and rain sounds, but it was corrupted by strange effects from the other side of sanity — harsh metallic sounds, animals whining and calling, forming a smothering cacophony against which Lear fought.

For a production of Frank Pig Says Hello by Pat McCabe, which involves many quick changes of location, times remembered and characters mimicked, the director, Geoff O'Keeffe, wanted to explore the use of sound instead of many props — everything from an actor blowing a few notes on a trumpet to slaughtering a pig. The approach allowed great scope for creativity and experimentation in how sound effects, recorded voices and music could be coordinated with the actions of the two actors. The final sequence, which was taken on tour and run by an operator, included over 100 programmed sound cues.

Some people will know from their own experience, that sound often adds atmosphere, mood and drama without making its presence felt. Take it away and many will wonder what's missing. How often have you been surprised to see far more songs listed in the credits at the end of a movie than you remember noticing while watching it? Good, evocative sound, that complements what the other senses receive, makes a big difference to many performances and presentations.

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Photography

One of the first forms of creative expression I turned to was photography — 35mm negative and reversal film and Standard 8mm cine film. The magic of watching silver halides turn many shades of grey on photographic paper, as it soaked in a dish of developer under the red glow of a darkroom safe-light, never dimmed. With siver replaced by silicon circuits, the methods are different, but the magic remains. Here are just some of the images I've captured and created in support of performers and performances.

 
  • Macbeth

    Image used for a poster to promote a production of 'Macbeth' (dlr Mill Theatre Oct 2018). Neill Fleming as Macbeth and Nichola MacEvilly as Lady Macbeth. Directed by Geoff O'Keeffe.

  • Hamlet

    Image used for a poster to promote a production of 'Hamlet' (Mill Theatre Oct 2016). Shane O'Regan took on the role of Shakespeare's Prince of Denmark for this production directed by Geoff O'Keeffe.

  • Hamlet & Ophelia

    From a series of publicity shots for a production of 'Hamlet' (Mill Theatre Oct 2016). Shane O'Regan as Shakespeare's Prince of Denmark and Clara Harte as Ophelia. The play was directed by Geoff O'Keeffe.

  • Hamlet & Gertrude

    From a series of photographs for a production of 'Hamlet' (Mill Theatre Oct 2016). Shane O'Regan as Shakespeare's Prince of Denmark and Claire O'Donovan as Gertrude. The play was directed by Geoff O'Keeffe.

  • The King

    Image produced for a poster to promote a production of 'The King' by Patrick Pearse in 2016. Sharon McCoy played 'The King' in an extended version that fused choral movement and voice, specially commissioned live music and a large ensemble cast in the centenary year of the Easter 1916 Rising.

  • The King

    Image produced to promote a production of 'The King' by Patrick Pearse in 2016. Sharon McCoy (above) played 'The King' in an extended version that fused choral movement and voice, specially commissioned live music and a large ensemble cast in the centenary year of the Easter 1916 Rising.

  • King Lear

    Image produced for the cover of the programme for 'King Lear'. Shane O'Regan (left) played The Fool and Lenny Hayden (right) played King Lear in the Mill Productions presentation of the Shakespeare play.

  • King Lear

    One of the images produced for publicising 'King Lear' at the Mill Theatre in October 2015. Shane O'Regan (left) played The Fool and Lenny Hayden (right) played King Lear in the Mill Productions presentation of the Shakespeare play.

  • Eimear Smyth

    From a series of headshots for actor Eimear Smyth.

  • Claire O'Donovan

    From a series of portraits for actor Claire O'Donovan.

  • Geoff O'Keeffe

    Actor and director Geoff O'Keeffe.

  • Frank Pig Says Hello

    Patrick O' Donnell (Frank) and Gerard Adlum (Piglet) in 'Frank Pig Says Hello'.

  • Frank Pig Says Hello

    Declan Brennan (Doctor), Muriel Caslin-O'Hagan (Nurse) and Hilda Fay as Lady Macbeth. A self-portrait captured during a technical rehearsal for the Mill Productions presentation of Shakespeare's tragedy.

  • Talk to me like the rain

    Robert Webster and Jacqueline Wall in 'Talk to me like the rain and let me listen' by Tennessee Williams.

  • Calendar Girls

    A publicity shot for Mill Productions presentation of 'Calendar Girls'.

  • Pantomime

    Garry Mountaine as Augusta Wind in the Mill Theatre Christmas Pantomime.

  • Sharon's Grave

    Publicity shot created for 'Sharon's Grave' with Jessica Plunkett and Paul Marron - created with the 'magic' of a green screen.

  • Sharon's Grave

    A scene shot at a rehearsal for 'Sharon's Grave'.

  • The Crucible

    The Salem Girls from 'The Crucible' by Arthur Miller - Aideen Ahern, Aishling Ní Fhoghlú and Jessica Checkley.

  • The Crucible

    The Salem Girls from 'The Crucible' by Arthur Miller - Aoibhinn Ní Fhionnagáin, Aishling Ní Fhoghlú, Máirin Condon, Jessica Checkley and Aideen Ahern.

  • The Crucible

    Rebecca Nurse in Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible' played by Muriel Caslin-O'Hagan.

  • God of Carnage

    Claire O'Donovan, Brian Molloy, David Walsh and Ruth Calder Potts in 'God of Carnage'.

  • God of Carnage

    Ruth Calder Potts, Brian Molloy, Claire O'Donovan and David Walsh in 'God of Carnage'.

  • Achill Island

    Summer sundown on Achill Island, off the west coast of Ireland.

 


The photographs shown here cover everything from individual portraits, to rehearsal and production shots for shows as varied as King Lear and Calendar Girls; images created for posters and programmes; and location photographs for use on set, in print or online.

Indoors on stage or in a studio setting, or outside in a natural location, lighting is what makes and can transform an image. Just as sound can 'colour' the way a scene is perceived, light can change the shape, tone and intensity of what the viewer beholds. Magic indeed!

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Graphic Design & Content

Every performance needs to be put in a frame. One aspect of that is text and graphics combined in print or online to position and promote a presentation in the minds of those it sets out to entertain or influence. Before, during and after many performances, that's often a role assigned to visual message vehicles such as posters, flyers, websites or images incorporated into the presentation. Here are just a few examples where I have had an opportunity to support performances, in print and online, with layouts that bring words and images together in a variety of media.

  • Theatre Posters

    Posters for theatre by Declan Brennan (photography and image processing) Neill Fleming as 'Macbeth', Nichola MacEvilly as 'Lady Macbeth', Shane O'Regan as 'Hamlet' and Philip Judge as 'King Lear'.

  • Theatre Posters

    Posters for theatre by Declan Brennan. Left: (photography) Neill Fleming as 'Beast' and Evelyn Shaw as 'Beauty'. Centre: (graphic design) Christmas Show. Right: (photography and image processing) Sharon McCoy as 'The King'.

  • Theatre Posters and Programmes

    Posters and programmes for theatre.

  • Theatre Posters and Programmes

    Posters and programmes for theatre.

  • Theatre Posters and Programmes

    Posters and programmes for theatre.

  • Theatre Posters

    Posters and programmes for theatre.

  • Websites

    Websites built include my production unit Vermilion Productions and, of course, the website you're visiting now.

In other cases, where a project uses the skills and talents of a larger creative team, I have collaborated on the design and creation of graphic material and the words they frame. As the term 'multimedia' suggests, it brings together the many elements and influences outlined on this site. They may appear separate at first, but are connected ultimately by an audience — they're all about performance.

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