The Magic Lantern Society

New Light on Old Media

Welcome to Issue 30 of New Light on Old Media

Motion capture or motion tracking which records the movements of live actors as the basis for digital animation is a concept usually explored in film or the development of video games, not live theatre and certainly not as part of the works of William Shakespeare.   The Royal Shakespeare Company's current production of The Tempest at Stratford on Avon features not only this but a number of ground-breaking, as well as more traditional, optical projection techniques.  In the still reproduced above Ariel can be seen lower right with all actions mirrored above and simultaneously. Imaginarium Studios, a company founded by actor-director Andy Serkis, best known as Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, has developed these effects. The Tempest runs until 21 January 2017 with live transmissions in selected cinemas nationwide from 11 January.  There is more information on the techniques used here on the Creative Review site.  With another article here on the BBC site, commenting on the equally impressive use of more ancient effects alongside the new.

Mervyn Heard : Editor

 Supporting Feature

I've been asked to present magic lantern shows in some pretty strange places over the years but my most recent enagagement probably rates as the most obscure. Pictured above is the 250 foot high Bristol Suspension Bridge over the River Avon, originally designed by Isombard Kingdom Brunel and opened in 1864. As you can see it has two supporting towers. The farthest one in the photograph is hollow. However, since the original designs were mislaid at the time no-one rediscovered this until 2002 when men working on the road above found a massive vaulted space hanging with stalagtites. This is where several Halloween presentations took place on 29 October, with the audience sporting hard hats and high vis. jackets.    

The projections were difficult to record, but you can capture something of the experience here on this audience member's blog site


There Will Be Fun be had at the British Library in London. From now until 12 February 2017 there is an exhibition on Victorian Entertainments : There Will be Fun also features some live events on selected Saturdays in December.  The focus is on five specific characters including magician John Neville Maskelyne and circus showman Lord George Sanger. Admission is free. Go here for more information.

Beethoven's Shadow

From the cover, Dierdre Loughridge's new book may seem a little too esoteric for most tastes. But it has an intriguing premise.   The author argues that during the late 18th and early 19th centuries the proliferation of optical technologies, specifically magnifying instruments, magic lanterns, peepshows and shadow-plays also fostered musical innovation. Haydn’s Sunrise, Beethoven’s Shadow is described as "a fascinating exploration of the early romantic blending of sight and sound as encountered in popular science, street entertainments, opera, and music criticism."  You can read more and buy both the book or an e-version, here from the University of Chicago Press.


More About the

Magic Lantern Society

If you have an interest in research or performance involving the magic lantern or other forms of vintage visual media  you might want to consider joining The Magic Lantern Society. We publish a regular quarterly printed journal and meet on a regular basis in the UK and other parts of Europe.
For further information and back issues of this e-letter go to  

You will find our sister organisation The Magic Lantern Society of the US and Canada here:

Gallery Invasion

I've featured the mini-mapping work of Belgian based collective Skullduggery before (Issue 13 July 2015) . Then they were projecting their petit chef onto diners' tables.  With their latest excursion their tiny assailants have taken over an art exhibition interacting with the paintings on the wall.  To enjoy a video of their 'Gallery Invasion' go here.  For previous wonders visit their website here.


Train Entrance in Arad Station aka Lanterna Magica 2015. This work by Romanian artist Bogdan Tomsa has recently been acquired by the Saatchi Collection. It was originally made for the exhibition Wunderkammer 2/ Apparatus/ Kinema Ikon Group last year. An old lantern lamphouse is set against a video akin to a 'phantom ride' representing the machine as a locomotive.  You can see further adventures with the loco-lantern here on the artist's site.



The now obsolete Rubjerg Knude lighthouse in Denmark has recently been transformed into what may be the largest kaleidoscope in the world. Precariously situated on a giant sand dune it contains a revolutionary (pun intended) wind-powered mechanism designed by Bessards Studio and JAJA Architects turning giant mirrorsYou can see a short video of the tower and the mesmerising effects created here.

A Merry Christmas to all our readers

Some festive anamorphic pavement art. 
There are further examples to be found here.


New Light on Old Media Issue 30, December 2016
Copyright © 2016 The Magic Lantern Society, All rights reserved.

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