The Runnymede Illusion (Work in Progress)

Theatre Xrisville ABM CreativeI don’t normally associate the word “splendor” with any building occupied by Chapters bookstore. Yet I thought I’d make the association today in unveiling a work in progress—an opening frame for a whole new series of videos I’ll roll out in 2016.

The splendor factor is the Runnymede Theatre in Bloor West Village, Toronto. Built in 1927 by the architectural firm of Chapman & Oxley (who also built the Sunnyside Pathing Pavilion, Maple Leaf Stadium and many other iconic Hogtown buildings), the theatre was a rare “atmospheric theatre” in that projected images of moving clouds were projected into its sky-blue ceiling. When Chapters bought the heritage building in 1998, the public feared the bookselling giant would destroy the place. Yet Chapters restored the theatre’s original colors and materials so exquisitely, the word “splendor” was the first word that came to me when I walked in for the first time and gasped.

While the theatre had never been a stage for live performance of any kind, it looked like it had by the open space where the movie screen had once hung. So I decided to create the illusion from a shot taken from the balcony.

It wasn’t easy. With racks of books half-obscuring a full, clean shot (below), weeks of painstaking Photoshop work were needed to heighten half of the original image into a full-size empty stage. I also had to carefully square up lines and angles without distorting the intricate decorations, and I took great care to preserve original colors and textures.

In personalizing the image as a frame for what will basically be Theatre Xrisville under abmCreative, I set a few soft overlays of spring buds taken at Rockwood Conservation area, as well as mirrored transparencies of a sculpture shot in the lobby of the Cirque theatre in Las Vegas. I still have much to do, but as a snapshot of what’s been happening in the Candy Factory studios lately (and what will be happening), I hope you enjoy it.

If you want to experience the Runnymede Theatre itself (now owned by Shoppers Drug Mart), sure, you can look it up online, but to actually walk into the place?

Splendor.


Runnymede Theatre Toronto

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