The words "costume exhibition" don't promise a lot of drama. Perhaps we have seen too many costumes imprisoned in Plexiglas cubes under bland eco-friendly display lighting. Perhaps we got bored reading the vital statistics of each item of clothing as we strolled through hushed museum halls.
A visit to the recently opened
exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) will make you forget all you ever knew about museum visits and may change forever the way you view exhibitions. Here, the costumes receive as much direction and attention as the actors who once wore them. This stunning exhibit places the emphasis firmly on production value. The creators of these remarkable displays realized that without great lighting, sound and video, costumes are just old clothing once inhabited by a famous person. Here, the costumes inherit the charisma of the stars who wore them. Many of them convey the sense of joy and confidence that an actor might have felt inside such a creation. It doesn't hurt that of the 150 costumes on display, most were originally created by Oscar®-winning costume designers. Lighting designer Trevor Burk of Visual Noise Creative gives the costumes something they never had before - a sculpted theatrical look with front, back and side light.
Costume designers rarely get the recognition they deserve. Like editors and writers, their work is often overshadowed by directors, producers and actors. In modern-dress movies, the public assumes that costumes can be found at the local mall. This exhibition is a narrative that defines the pivotal role of the costumer in the creative process. Divided into four sections, the first exhibit examines the 70's costumes in
and the costumes in the
series. Exhibit room two explores in depth the relationship between director and costume designer. High-definition interactive video, provided by general contractor Chaos Visual Productions, tells the story of each costume from napkin sketches to final construction. Every step of the process is meticulously displayed on acrylic projection surfaces with synced audio tracks.
Burk was brought in early to the creative process. He chose a discreet black pipe grid over a traditional truss to draw attention away from the ceiling and lighting fixtures. He knew upfront that strict controls of color temperature and intensity would be imposed on his design. "The curators wanted no more than five footcandles (50 lux) of light on each costume, so I chose to run the ETC fixtures on individual dimmer channels for maximum control," says Burk. Backstage, the rows of ETC's new compact 96-way MP Rolling Racks with ThruPower could serve a touring Broadway show with one very important difference: the entire lighting rig uses only 60 amps of power - the same power draw as a single-film Fresnel used in the original movie. At the heart of the design are 454 ETC
Source Four® Mini LED Gallery fixtures
. "This fixture perfectly met my needs. Apart from a couple of ARRI LED L7C and L5C Fresnels, we use the Source Four Mini everywhere - it is punchy even from a twenty-two-foot trim height, and gives a razor-flat field," describes Burk. "For programming, we used an
and a wireless network so that three focusing teams could control channels with an
Associate lighting designer Phil Kong adds: "The show is controlled by an
[Remote Processor Unit]. Operations staff can recall presets, start up and shut down lighting and projection, and can control party-space color and intensity via an ETC
Mosaic Tessera Panel Controller touchscreen
that sends UDP triggers to the Ion." In other words, the push of the button will set in motion some Hollywood magic and a string of memories.