Tuesday 16/01/2024 |

Shaping Visual Narratives with Projection Designer Olivia Sebesky

Olivia Sebesky

In the dynamic world of live events and entertainment, Olivia Sebesky stands out as a beacon of innovation and creativity. An award-winning Projection Designer, Multimedia Art Director, and Motion Graphics Designer, Olivia's extensive portfolio includes collaborations with some of the biggest names in music — Aerosmith, Carrie Underwood, James Taylor, to name a few — as well as projects for leading brands and events. We sat down with her to delve into her journey, her process, and her thoughts on the future of projection design.

Olivia, what drew you into the world of projection mapping and content creation?

My journey began from a foundation in fine art and painting. I first dipped my toes into scenic design for Broadway in the early 2000s, where I discovered my passion for blending visual storytelling with music. The advent of digital tools opened up new possibilities for me, allowing me to paint on a canvas as vast as the world itself. It's the ability to experiment with composition on such a grand scale that truly excites me.

How do you see the current state of projection design?

It's incredibly vibrant and dynamic. The pace of innovation is what really stands out to me. As artists, we're constantly exploring and pushing boundaries, yet it's fascinating to see how different designers can take the same set of tools and create something unique. It underscores the importance of making deliberate artistic choices.

Can you talk about your experience starting with Disguise?

Sure, I started using Disguise back in 2009 while working on Green Day’s American Idiot tour. Back then, Disguise was known as "d3" and it was a game-changer for us. Having Ash Nehru, the company founder, directly supporting us during the tech phase was invaluable. Disguise's ability to integrate seamlessly with our creative process made it an indispensable tool.

What sets Disguise apart from other tools in projection mapping?

Disguise's reliability is unmatched. It allows for pre-visualisation within a 3D model, which is crucial for planning and executing complex designs. The software's capacity for mesh warping and edge blending is particularly impressive, enabling us to create unified images from multiple projectors effortlessly.
Olivia Sebesky, Projection Designer, Multimedia Art Director, and Motion Graphics Designer

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Could you share an innovative project you've worked on using Disguise?

One standout project was the MDLBeast Soundstorm, an EDM festival in Saudi Arabia. We tackled the challenge of creating immersive visual experiences for an art piece stage, utilising Disguise to handle massive rasters and complex media layers. It was an incredible learning experience, akin to a masterclass in concert design and production.

What do you believe is changing in projection design experiences currently?

The industry is evolving with both hardware and software advancements, yet the challenge remains in keeping pace with expanding raster sizes and the need for rapid iteration. This has led to a growing interest in real-time generative software, pushing us towards more innovative and non-traditional presentations.

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Any future projects you're excited about?

I'm currently involved in a project with Universal Studios and prepping for the Lainey Wilson 2024 tour. One aspect I'm particularly excited about is incorporating projections on water, which introduces a whole new texture and dimension to our designs.

What advice would you offer to those starting in projection mapping or live events?

"Always be the most helpful person in the room," was advice given to me by my mentor, Justin Townsend. I'd add, be ready, open, and patient with your learning process. The field is constantly evolving, and there's always something new to learn.

Lastly, any tips for someone considering using Disguise?

Dive into the wealth of online resources available. Tackling mini projects and solving problems on your own is a great way to build a solid foundation in Disguise. It's about bringing that knowledge to your productions and making an impactful start from day one.

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With awards and accolades including the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Design, the  2023 Parnelli Award for Media Content Creator of the Year as well as being chosen as one of Live Design’s 30 Under 30, Olivia is passionate about crafting experiences that resonate  with audiences on a profound level. Her innovative approach and commitment to excellence continue to push the boundaries of what's possible, making her a true visionary in the field.