The Zoltan Video Tent—Newly Completed

Carnival Stage abm creative xristopher blandFor a while now, I’d been wanting to create a special new frame assembly so a video didn’t have to just run flat on its own but could be sandwiched between layers for the fantasy effect of watching a show on a carnival stage. For this effect, I’d been shooting different sections and angles of a rare Zoltan arcade machine restored and owned by my stepfather. Yet despite dozens of shots, I just couldn’t find the right idea to make it all work. So I abandoned the idea—until about a month ago, when fireflies gave me the inspiration I’d been needing.

Mary Beth and I were sitting around the bonfire one night at Rosewood when fireflies began appearing. We’d long had them in the area but never in the number that appeared that night… in the treetops… the fields… the pathways… all around us… then something astonishing happened. The fireflies began coming toward us.

In the magic of that, a dimension of wonder enveloped us. For the briefest of seconds, we stepped beyond ourselves… beyond this world and into the luminescence of theirs, and I imagined them leading us into the woods to a place where they gathered as strings of lights to a carnival stage that appeared and disappeared as they did.

The next day, I returned to the Zoltan pictures… cutting sections… reshaping them… blending colors… working dozens of images over weeks and hours into a carnival stage set in the woods, and everything had the aura I’d been seeking

As a multi-layer Photoshop file, the image is essentially a real stage in that the background goes behind any video footage and the stage goes on top. The final effect: Video footage doesn’t just run flat and defined by whatever happens to be in the shot. Video appears as if it’s showing as a theatre presentation, and viewers are transported to the softness of a night woodland and immersed in a more three-dimensional experience before a strange carnival stage where the show takes place.

In this image, there’s no video show happening, of course. It’s just the frame for it all, but since I’m planning to incorporate this frame assembly into my Half-World art-music-design video (currently in the works), the full effect will be plain when the Half-World show is finally ready and rolls into town.

And of course the frame isn’t purpose-built for one application only. Example: Shoot a band performing against a green screen and layer that footage into the frame and all of a sudden that band is the carnival stage’s feature attraction, complete with whatever else you might want to dance into view.

Beyond practical application, I’m just thrilled to finally be able to bring a long-held idea to life, and I hope you enjoy this image as much as I do.

Cheers.—Xris

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