Life in Production – Finding Your “Perfect” Convergence
Written by: Clem Harrod
Inspired by: “Painted on Canvas” by Gregory Porter
Wikipedia defines Geometry as a branch of mathematics that deals with shapes, size, relative position of figures, and the properties of space. A mathematician who works in the field of geometry is called a Geometer. In the field of Live Event Production, this person is called a Projectionist.
As a video projectionist, we are tasked with understanding the Givens (established facts, conditions, or factors) in a set-up. For example, the projector type, the screen size, the room layout, and the schedule are all Givens. Then, we must place our projectors in a position that will give us an ideal geometric representation of our image. If our image is supposed to be a 16’x9’rectangle with two sets of parallel lines, then that’s what we work towards giving our client. If our image is supposed to be a 106’x18′ curved 4 stack blend, then we use all of our resources to achieve that ideal image.
This means understanding what adjustments we need to make to our projector, scaffold tower, or rigging hardware to manipulate the cone of light as it reaches the screen surface. If we raise the front of a projector, or lower the back, our image will get larger towards the top. At the same time, if we lower the front, or raise the back, the image will get larger on the bottom and smaller at the top. Understanding these elements of cause and effect, are the basis of being a good projectionist.
Now that we’ve touched on aligning a single projector, let’s introduce a second. The process of perfectly overlaying a second projector on top of the first is called convergence. How can two 32×32 grids be placed on top of one another and look as one? With patience and understanding. Understanding of how each element works independently, but then comes together to form a union.
Ideally, you want those images to be PERFECTLY converged and flawless, but realistically, it can’t happen. There’s always a corner out, or a line that isn’t as straight as you’d like. If you’re using a Panasonic projector’s internal test pattern, then you may see some of your pixels are out of focus or not perfectly hidden behind one another. At some point you have to be ok with it. At some point, you have to realize it can’t be perfect. The geometry, the physics, the mathematics won’t let it be perfect, because life isn’t perfect.
In a metaphorical sense, we will always have a slightly misaligned “grid”. We will always see something we could fix…something we could tweak. But, at what point do we say this is good enough? At what point do we realize my “End-Client” is happy? At what point do we step back and admire the work we have done, enjoy what we were able to accomplish, and tell ourselves job well done?
That was something I had a hard time doing. I am a perfectionist. I constantly see the faults, the blemishes, the imperfections in myself, in my work, and in my life. In addition to being a perfectionist, I am also a fixer. How can I make it better? How can I improve what people see? What I see? How can I make a small adjustment over here that will yield a better outcome over there?
It wasn’t until I worked a show for Devlinhair Productions in 2015 that I realized I needed to stop trying to be perfect. I was using the Barco Projector Toolset to converge (2) 100′ curved screens, and I was in the zone. I saw the Matrix. I was making it “perfect”! The schedule was tight, we were in and out of rehearsals, and I was taking every opportunity I had to keep working – bio breaks, meals, etc. I refused to quit. In one of those moments, the Technical Director came up to me and said, “It looks good. If you keep at it, you could mess things up?”
I didn’t hear it in that moment, but what I later understood him to say was, “We are happy. You did a good job. You can walk away now.” As an artist and someone who likes words of affirmation, I would long for that approval. I needed it. It made my world go round. To make my Client happy made me happy. However, I began to notice with time and repetition came confidence. Confidence in my work and confidence in my abilities. Not to be mistaken for arrogance, but rather comfort in knowing that if I work hard, I can walk away from a project knowing I did my best. My VERY best!
Once I understood the Givens in my situation, and what tweaks I could make to create an ideal image, I didn’t let the race towards perfection or approval rule me. I began using Pre-Production as an aide in my planning process. Then, with patience, I was able to use mindfulness to execute the necessary steps towards making a Client approved image, and one that would make me happy. As a Geometer and Projectionist who is dedicated to and passionate about my craft, I can walk away from any show knowing I made my “End-Client” happy.
Now, as I continue to work on the convergence of my life, I ask how are you managing your own convergence? How are you managing the balance between perfection and acceptance? How are you as an artist or a process driven person taking the time to step back from your image to see what everyone else sees? We oft times get lost in our own world or our own head, but we need to make time to look at the big picture. Make time to see how our one piece plays into the overall project. See how we, as individual pixels, are just one of 2,073,600 pixels in a 1920×1080 resolution image.
Step back from your image and know, you can find balance. You can see it… You can believe it… And, you can achieve it… You too can find your “Perfect” Convergence!
“Step back and admire my view. Can I use the colors I choose? Do I have some say what you use? Can I get some Greens and some Blues?” – Gregory Porter
Clem Harrod is the Owner and Chief Projection Officer of CLEMCO.AV. He has over 20 Years in Live Event Production, including 15 Years in Corporate Events, 15 Years with the Orlando Magic, and 4 Years with Florida State University and Seminole Productions. Clem is a proud husband and father who resides in Tampa, Florida.