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Beautiful Burnout was a 2010 production by the National Theatre of Scotland and Frantic Assembly, opening at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival. It later toured the UK twice, ran at St. Ann's Warehouse in New York, and played at the Sydney, Wellington and Perth International Festivals. It was written by Bryony Lavery and directed by Steven Hoggett and Scott Graham.


Beautiful Burnout is a highly physical piece of theatre about the world of amatuer boxing. Set in a Glasgow gym, we follow five young boxers, a mother and a trainer through their individual stories. The show is performed on a boxing ring, with the audience on three sides, as spectators at a boxing match. On the fourth side is a star-shaped video wall created from 21 consumer LCD monitors.


Because of the layout of the seating, the audience were very close to the video wall during the show, which meant that the resolution had to be as high as possible. The finished video design, displayed on a wall measuring around 5m wide, had a resolution of 5600x2800, and was a combination of animation and 4k footage.


I still find the show interesting as an example of the drop in equipment costs that occured over the last few years. The original production had a very limited budget, yet grand ambitions. Through careful system design, using consumer technology where we had to, and restricting the creative design to only what was necessary, we realized the whole 18-week run of the 2010 show for less than £15k, including all LCD monitors, 5 mini Catalyst systems, RED camera shoot, etc etc. The system can be rigged and installed by a carpenter and the sound technician, was cued automatically via MIDI from QLab, and still happily runs the show three years later at a higher resolution than most new productions.