Creative Director Jonathan Buckels has been with battleROYAL ever since we started. Creating human moments was and remains to be an essential part of his work. Given his long-term outlook he has on the company’s life and the ongoing changes of our world, we spoke to him about his creative process, how it was affected by the pandemic, and his vision for the future.
We spoke to our Production Manager Ky about how battleROYAL‘s digital shift affected her personal work. Ky‘s experiences exemplify the way in which moving from live to hybrid events had most of our staff reinterpret their role completely.
Team spirit reflected in constructive, enjoyable processes for everyone is what our company stands for. This philosophy was born organically. We simply started as a small group of people who liked working together. What we all had in common and what drew us to battleROYAL, was that we were all looking for enjoyable work.
We all wanted exciting jobs in culture, art, entertainment, design, new technologies, instead of an ordinary desk job. We wanted to combine what we live for with our place of work. This shared passion created our strong community spirit, which became the fuel and foundation of everything we do. When we enlarge the team we therefore try to grasp during the interview stage already, whether people have the passion, flexibility, curiosity to widen a given skill-set, as well as a certain interest in a long-term commitment, which fits our collectivity principle.
Michael Masberg works with battleROYAL as Associate Creative Director and Dramaturg. His skills are essential to bring a project to life – from the first idea to the final event. As part of battleROYAL’s creative team, he accompanies the process, does the research and communicates with clients.
The team met him first during the production of the musical DAS WUNDER VON BERN. While battleROYAL staged the award-winning vertical choreography, he worked as a script supervisor and personal assistant to the director. During the last years he was involved in such major productions as AARHUS 2017, The Next 100 Years – BMW Festival Night and Equila.
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What does a dramaturg do at a creative production company?
It is our goal to give the audience not just a visually stunning experience. We want to get them involved and to create a strong emotional bond. To achieve this goal, we look for personal stories, historical moments and especially immersive elements. Bringing all this together is what a dramaturg does.
What is an immersive event and how does it work?
Immersive means to dive deep into an experience. The audience is not just watching a show – it is part of the show. Interactive elements give the spectators ownership over the event. They feel involved and will share this experience with their family, friends and colleagues. We did this successfully for the Neuland Mysterium event as well as for cultural projects like Aarhus 2017 or the Equila theatre show.
What do you like to work on more: Commercial or Cultural at battleROYAL? And what are the differences?
I like both branches – it’s always good not to be stuck in one bubble. Evolving challenges keeps the mind fresh. And the differences are not as significant as one may think. Of course, there are differences in the process and often budget, but the demands are the same. We are bridging the gap between commercial and contemporary performance. At the end of the day, it is all about creating a strong and unique experience that communicates, entertains and moves its audience.
The battleROYAL production celebrating the 125thAnniversary of 125 YEARS MADSACK required innovative thinking and attention to detail. Just the right job for Duncan McDade, who works with the motion design department battleVISION as a Video Designer to create cutting edge, interactive content for a broad range of productions.
For MADSACK, battleVISION and Duncan coordinated a large technical team, including collaborators Green Hippo and technical experts from VenCo, to create tailor-made interactive video design. Duncan worked tirelessly for 11 weeks to plan and deliver a custom system for this large-scale endeavor. The IR-system and video design was then implemented in only 4 days onsite. This was an industry first in Germany with the implementation of this brand new real-time tracking technology on such a large scale.
All the hard efforts paid off – the project won the German Design Award 2019.
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Is there any difference in your workflow when designing for a live interaction production?
The design and technical challenges are quite different. For instance, instead of creating a piece of content that you alter and watch endlessly in the build up to a show, it’s more along the lines testing a system that can be manipulated by the performers.
In some ways it’s a lot faster, you can create a design or look very quickly and timing is less relevant, but creating something specific and stable can bring a whole host of challenges with it.
How did you adjust your working process to showcase such a massive interaction projection?
By using references to the scale. Grids and technical drawings of the site are all essential on any large-scale project. Real world measurements can go directly into the 3D software, so that everything looks as it should.
What is the biggest challenge and how is it best overcome?
There are many ways to pre-visualize the look and feel you are going for. But until you see it onsite and to scale, you never really know how it will look. The angles it will be viewed from, scale and speed of elements, and composition will all be affected. The best way to overcome this is by being prepared, being able to change everything to look just right. Sometimes it’s straightforward, sometimes it’s not – but the payoff is always worth it.
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