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FEBRUARY 2010           ISSUE 126

                             VIVA ELVIS!                  CIRQUE DU SOLEIL’S
                                                         EPIC TRIBUTE TO THE
                                                        KING OF ROCK’N’ROLL

 ON THE ROAD: Viva Elvis

Cirque du Soleil, the now globally famous        extravagant examples of its performance art.
Montreal-based entertainment giant has,              Having built its brand on extraordinary
over the past 25 years, reinvented the           acrobatics acts supported by a unique blend
definition of the circus. From founder            of sound and lighting, with its Las Vegas
Guy LaLiberté’s original dream of street         shows Cirque has increasingly been exploring
performers bringing magic back to circus         other production styles — from the water
tents with their touring big top in the          extravaganza O, through the technological
’80s, to the multiple travelling shows now       masterpiece of KÀ, and in 2006 its triumphant
touring every continent except Africa and        celebration of The Beatles with Love, in
Antartica, the company has become a              partnership with Apple Corps.
household name.                                      Now, on February 19 within Las Vegas’
   Cirque’s partnership with MGM in its Las      spanking new ultra-modern City Centre
Vegas hotels has supported the creation of six   complex, Cirque du Soleil is premièring its
permanent shows in that city, each one unique    seventh residential show — a tribute to the life
and allowing Cirque the luxury of creating       and music of Elvis Aaron Presley, the King of
purpose built theatres to showcase ever more     Rock’n’Roll: Viva Elvis.

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THE BACKGROUND                                       wide influence he had and still has to this day.       timeline was: ‘This is it. Get it to us or you miss
In 2005, CKX approached Cirque about a                    “Elvis was a dangerous person, and for us        the boat’. We had a bit of a concept for the
collaboration with Elvis Presley Enterprises and     Cirque is also dangerous: people are amazed by        show initially and although we tried to do it
devising a show about the legendary singer.          what we do acrobatically and how we defeat            in tandem since the infrastructure had to be
The City Centre complex ultimately provided          gravity, so I think the joining of Elvis and Cirque   designed so much earlier the reality was that
the ideal new location and plans went ahead to       makes sense. The show is 90 minutes long and          the show design had to follow.
create a custom-built theatre within one of the      it’s important for us to have points of historical         “Guy LaLiberté’s initial idea was that he
new hotels, the 61-storey Aria Resort & Casino.      reference to things which influenced Elvis’s life,     wanted a theatrical dance/acrobatic show
    In the early days, before a design team was      and to be clear about what we are referencing.        celebrating the music of Elvis: that was the
selected, Stéphane Mongeau (later, in January             “At the end of the day it’s all about the        parameter and anything within that was open
2009 to become the show’s executive producer)        emotion and being surprised and learning              from there.”
was in charge of the design for the theatre.         something that you didn’t know about the man               The front of house theatre design was
    He recalled: “After Love opened, we              and his music.”                                       inspired by the showrooms of the ’60s and
immersed ourselves in the world of Elvis — we                                                              ’70s, including the Hilton International where
went to Graceland, read all the books, listened                                                            Elvis performed his legendary Vegas shows
to all the music while Cirque’s resident architect     “We are introducing Elvis to a                      — modifying their U-shaped banquette and
Johnny Bouvin [designer of the theatre from           new generation, demonstrating                        table seating to incorporate a front stalls section
proscenium out to lobby] did the same under                                                                of extra wide seats accommodating two people
the direction of Gilles Ste-Croix.                     what a wide influence he had                         and in the lower half of the theatre the aisles
    “We started with the music, which is the            and still has to this day...”                      were also designed with extra width to allow
driver here, and we linked the music that                                                                  the audience to dance.
inspired our acrobatic people with what we                                                                      Anderson continued: “The stage from the
read about Elvis. We wanted the show to be           THEATRE DESIGN                                        proscenium back was designed by a different
a really theatrical production unlike anything       While they had a vision for the concept, the          Cirque department who, having learnt from a
Cirque has done before, and our vision was for       actual show design had to be done alongside           couple of other theatres, left us a gigantic 90’
the stage to be like an opera house.                 the theatre design and construction.                  wide by 100’ deep hole, which from stage level
    “Viva Elvis is about the man and his music,           Production manager Mike Anderson                 has a 65’ drop down to the basement. Within
and while we do take bits of his life we really      explained the process: “We started about three        that void we could do anything we needed ,
didn’t want to do any historical biographical        years ago. The building of this amazing US$11         stage-lift wise, which was great.
treatment so by coming up with the songs and         billion CityCentre complex was on a fast track of          “The stage house is huge — almost 90’ wide
working from there it was better.                    which our theatre was just a tiny piece. In terms     and 60’ high. The stage floor is 200’ deep from
    “The show is more about his influence on          of our infrastructure they had some pretty rigid      downstage all the way to the upstage wall and
music, so we go from gospel to country to            deadlines for us to give them the information so      it’s 80’ wide and 50’ high from stage level to
rock’n’roll, and we have rearranged the music in     they could get it built.                              proscenium.
such a way that I think we are introducing Elvis          “Because we needed to get in early we                 “Designing the infrastructure was a very
to a new generation, demonstrating what a            wanted Phase One to be complete, so the               collaborative affair. Jonathan Deans and Mark

                                                                                                                                         TPi FEBRUARY 2010 • 23
ON THE ROAD: Viva Elvis

Below: Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté; Elvis’s widow Priscilla Presley; write/director Vincent Paterson; Gilles Ste-Croix, Cirque du Soleil’s senior VP of creative content & new project development;
executive producer Stéphane Mongeau; set designer Mark Fisher and the full cast with VIPs. Bottom: Outside and inside views of the theatre within Las Vegas’ Aria Resort & Casino.

Fisher had already been brought on board as                            DEPARTURE                                                               six-song medley. They are all different places,
consultants, and Mark played a very integral                           Stylistically, Viva Elvis is a departure from                           geographically, spatially and emotionally.
part in all the stage lifts design. Guy St. Amour,                     the world of fantasy which the Cirque has                                   “Vincent wanted to have completely
our acrobatic equipment designer, was very                             traditionally inhabited into a much punchier                            separate scenery for each scene. It creates a
involved from an overhead rigging standpoint.                          environment. Set designer Mark Fisher and                               particular style of show that is very staccato,
    “The writer/director, Vincent Paterson was                         lighting designer Marc Brickman have both                               and it’s been surprisingly difficult to get an
obviously trying to see how it was all going to                        brought their extensive rock’n’roll experiences                         overall trajectory in which the whole show
tie into show concept; additionally there were                         to the table here, and it shows.                                        builds to a climax.”
our technical director Michel Tremblay, LD                                 Fisher described the approach: “Every other                             With 26 very high calibre dancers and 25
Marc Brickman, and myself — so there were a                            residential show that Cirque has done except                            acrobats, Viva Elvis incorporates more dance
number of us in there making the decisions.”                           this one is approached in what American                                 than any other Cirque show and displays a real
                                                                                                                                               fusion of both disciplines.
“Vincent wanted to have completely separate scenery for each scene.                                                                                The big Fisher-designed sets include a Juke
                                                                                                                                               Box for the opening number, a multi-coloured
It creates a particular style of show that is very staccato...”                                                                                Gotta Lotta fairground set (referencing Elvis’s
                                                                                                                                               love of both entertainment parks and Marvel
    Mike Anderson also tried to facilitate a                           theatre designers call a unitary style. They have                       superheroes), a Jailhouse Rock set made by
smooth technical transition by making sure that                        a single set and make transformations to it                             StageLine in Montreal and a Las Vegas set, by
some key crew members were on-site from the                            during the show; they’ll bring something on, or                         Show FX, which closes the show.
very beginning. Dave Douvall was originally                            change something, but underneath it remains as                              For the Western section, Fisher designed
brought in as the load-in technical director                           a single set throughout the show.                                       an homage to Ant Farm’s Cadillac Ranch with
to lead the installation process, then when                                “The big thing here was that Vincent                                a series of leaning Elvis sculptures set in a
Anderson’s team arrived to finish the production                        Paterson saw the show as a collection of Elvis                          desert landscape and a very nice pimped-up
aspect he switched to his current role as                              songs (which are typically only two and a half                          pink Cadillac, both of which were sculpted by
operations technical director.                                         minutes long) and he wanted each song to look                           Jacqueline Pyle. She also sculpted Fisher’s 30’
    As Douvall explained: “It has been very                            different or at the very least be grouped into                          long Blue Suede Shoe and the two flame-
helpful because very often there is no crossover                       sections.                                                               bearing, Swarovski crystal-embellished Elvis
and Mike tried hard on this one to mix the two                             “For example, there’s a romance section with                        statues that feature in finale. F&D Scene
— some of the crew have been around since                              three songs, a military section (where Elvis joins                      Changes of Calgary built the shoe, the Elvis
the first lift was installed which gives us a good                      the U.S. Army) with two songs, a gospel section                         figures, the Cadillac and wedding cake.
base of knowledge to maintain and run things.”                         with four songs, and a western section with a                               Fisher was also responsible for the gold

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ON THE ROAD: Viva Elvis

Below: ‘Col. Parker’ during one of his monologes; the fairground Gotta Lotta set in with superheroes trampolining; the Blue Suede Shoe and Juke Box set.
Second row: The Western section desert landscape; the Jungle Gym featuring acrobatic performances of military precision; the giant wedding cake.

record theme that extends to the main curtain,                        nearly 35’ high, weighing 60 tons, has seven                           acrobatic performances on it.
stage floor and hanging discs. “I made a whole                         Olympic size trampolines in it. When it’s done                             Fisher continued: “The Gym is as big as it can
presentation with gold everything,” he said.                          it’s stuff, we lift it all up into the roof and store                  be to store in the downstage basement — it
“The hard work of producing the artwork was                           it about 60’ in the air. The design [with Daniel                       literally scrapes the paint of everything near it
done by Tamlyn Wright.”                                               Cola] is very carefully worked out because                             when it is moved around. Once it hits the stage
    Other sets involve a Jungle Gym for the                           where people are trampolining and free-running                         the performers unfold parts of it to make it even
military section with an American flag backdrop                        up walls and jumping off platforms, the heights,                       larger. The Wedding Cake, also stored in the
made from genuine Fruit Of The Loom boxer                             the distances, the angles and everything                               basement, is almost the same size as the Gym.”
shorts and long johns, a huge wedding cake                            required a huge amount of research.
(designed by Tamlyn Wright) and two aerial                                 “Jailhouse Rock is also complicated. It has                       MULTI-LEVEL
acts, one featuring two engagement rings, the                         three levels each about 15’ apart and supports                         Every inch of backstage space is crammed with
other a guitar, both designed by Guy St. Amour.                       dancers who dance the right way up and                                 scenery. It tracks in from wings, rises from the
A lot of material is juxtaposed into the show.                        acrobats who dance the wrong way up. The                               basement, flies in from the grid, and is laser
    Mark Fisher elaborated on the design: “Most                       decks are carefully spaced to allow the different                      driven downstage. Currently there are 30 songs
of the sets are big because the stage is 80’                          levels of people to goof about without colliding.                      in the show and 16 different scene set-ups
wide. About half of the set pieces are used by                        The structure has to be solid enough not to                            stored backstage. On the stage level alone
the dancers but the technically interesting ones                      deflect even though everyone is dancing on the                          there’s almost 20,000ft2 of space and every
are used by the acrobats. They are far more                           beat, because the inverted walk rigging must                           square foot of it chock full of stuff — likewise in
demanding in what they require.                                       remain absolutely horizontal.”                                         the basement — so it’s easy to understand the
    “The Juke Box, for example, is a very                                  A major piece of engineering, built by                            issues in the early stages of how to deal with
straightforward piece. It’s big and it’s pretty,                      StageLine in Montreal, it tracks downstage                             moving it all around.
but basically it’s just a bunch of decks. The really                  almost 200’ during the performance.                                         Said Mike Anderson: “Probably the biggest
technical pieces are the Gotta Lotta and the                               The Jungle Gym in the military scene features                     challenge we faced early on was the stage
Jailhouse Rock sets.                                                  high bars and was designed by Guy St. Amour                            lifts. We knew they needed to be able to move
    “Gotta Lotta is the full width of the stage,                      and Daniel Cola, who directed some impressive                          between one and two feet a second, be up to

Above: The basement lifts; the stage lift door open; top grid; stage floor; winches and motors in the top grid; Elvis immortalised in statue form.

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ON THE ROAD: Viva Elvis

Below: Production director Mike Anderson, stage manager Carolyn ‘Nog’ Wyld, technical director (on-going operations) David Dovell, (front row) operations production manager John Barnett & technical
director (production) Michel Tremblay; the automation dept — Simon Parsons, Steve Carl, Matt Cadenhead, James Bryant, Ron Travato, Chris Cameron, Andrew Swanson, Chuck McCafferty, Chris Hodsden,
Duane Turner & Galen Price; James Bryant in the automation control booth.

Below: The carps — John Gallagher, Brian Petre, Alex Malinov, Chris Ziemann, Tim Merziotis, Trevor Workhoven, Steve Pelletier, Sammy Waltens, Craig Breternitz, Matt Ayers, Antonio Olmeda,
Kelly Dornfeld, Cayman Medina, James Hutcherson, Marshall Spratt, Carley Buchanan, Christine Chabira, Gavin Thomson, Omar Sealey & Mike Bowen; the riggers — Jamie Rivas, Denis Komarov,
Steve Scott, Chris Cadlett, Eric Eoelu, Nick Cavazos, Clay Kauffman, Derek Hoskins, Edward Ransom, Vitaliy Frolove, Abdiel Garcia & Curtis LeGacie.

80’ wide and 20’ deep, to have the capacity of                     we faced this with Love, so we came up with                         only do you have all the electrical stuff travelling
lifting over 70,000lbs and a sustained capacity                    a really ingenious non-negotiable plan to put                       with the lifts you actually have a sprinkler pipe
of around 200,000lbs. That’s a really BIG piece                    a 30’ facing on all the stage lifts creating a lift                 travelling with them as well in case all this
of machinery moving, and there’s not a lot of                      shaft so there is no potential for anyone to fall                   concrete and metal down here catches on fire!”
people that can make it.                                           into any hole.                                                          A total of 17 stage lifts were constructed
     “Our sub-basement is 60’ and our basement                         “The weight of the steel for the lifts is three                 by Show Canada in Montreal. They can travel
is 30’ below stage level so we knew that when                      quarters of the amount of steel used in the                         anywhere in the 30’ between the basement
our stage lifts were up there was the 30’ hole                     entire building and they take up so much square                     and stage level and, in the case of the small Pod
from basement to sub-basement. It was one of                       footage that the fire department required us to                      Lifts, can rise up to 10’ above the stage and be
my major concerns coming into here because                         do fire suppression underneath them, so not                          popped up in different configurations to add

                                                                                                                      SEE ALL THE WINNERS AT

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                                                                       ON THE ROAD: Viva Elvis

“Stage Technologies have been absolutely incredible as always...”
another dimension and allow the creation of             Stage Technologies has been working with
smaller scenes without using the larger sets.       Cirque for the past 10 years and Anderson was
   This ability to do multiple configurations        full of praise for the company’s work: “Stage
played a large part in the development of the       Technologies have been absolutely incredible
show. The furthest upstage lift is C5, the 80’ x    with us as always. They are absolutely at the
20’ workhorse of the show, used the most to         top of the list of main suppliers for the show
bring up all the largest pieces of scenery.         — from theatrical infrastructure on the tracks
   Downstage of C1 are two 8’ x 8’ star             and trolleys, to the automated control system
traps that travel between stage level and the       that we’re running at FOH, to all the laser-
basement. The C1 lift and the star trap holes are   guided elements.
covered by SLOATS (Sliding Lifting Automated            “They’re also busy on the production side
Traps) when the lifts are down. The lifts are all   and were very involved in a lot of the scenic
powered by rack and pinion motors (mounted          elements that we built. Had they not been with
on the lifts themselves). The three largest lifts   us 100% on this one we would have been in
are all counterweighted.                            a world of trouble! We’ve had half of their UK
                                                    shop and almost all of their Vegas shop working
WINCH FARM                                          with us for the past year.”
There are 66 Stage Technologies winches used
in the show, 54 of which are housed in the          AUTOMATION
‘winch farm’ on the grid which, because of          Head of automation, Galen Price gave an
the length of the cable drops (the grid is 104’     overview of his department’s work: “I have
above the stage and 200’ above the basement),       a wide range of electrical/electronic and
provided a cable management challenge               mechanical skill sets with my crew, so where
regarding guiding them and keeping them             rigging is specialised, they just do one bit of it
straight — the stage configuarion meant they         but we can actually take a lot more.
could only have guide columns on the four               “We maintain everything on the grid and
corners.                                            make sure that everything before it leaves
    Mike Anderson pointed out that their            the drum is perfectly safe — the motor, the
tolerances are down to 0.1875”, so all the          gearbox, the encoder — so that all its limits are
winches had to be lined up because there            set.
is a zero fleet angle and the drum travels               “Stage Technologies have a product
instead of the cable which always stays exactly     development partnership with Siemens who
perpendicular.                                      supplied all components for the motor control
    The maximum load capacity on an average         cabinets which have a main brain and two
winch is 2,000lbs on a normal scenic unit           sub data boards that control all the inputs and
though the massive Gotta Lotta set is on a triple   outputs of the four computers plus a bunch of
purchase system lifted off of nine separate         relays. It’s got a touch screen so I can tell what
dedicated winches, none of which can go             weight is on each one of these hoists, and gives
out of sync by more than 5mm or it shuts the        us feedback from the winches and checks all
system down. The LED truss uses four winches,       kinds of errors before a winch is allowed to
travels up to 52” below the grid and drops          move.
down up to 60”.                                         “If I lose this cabinet and the Gotta Lotta set

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ON THE ROAD: Viva Elvis

Below: Image content designer, Ivan Dudnysky and the projection team — Tom Juliano, Monte Davis, Selina Davenport & Dallas Nichols

is down we can’t do the Jailhouse Set because                    writing just for this show. It’s great because with                 proposing for each song. Based on that story,
we can’t lift the GL set out.                                    the joystick we can do pretty much anything.                        they pulled in everything and made selections.
    “Each winch is programmed specifically                             “We can use it on any of the trolleys                              Dudnysky recalled: “The video/film selection
for a particular scene, unlike at the consoles                   individually, or we can take the four trolleys                      has been a very time-consuming process —
where they can interact at times, the individual                 which have two lift points and tell the system                      more than a year and a half. We’ve been cutting
cabinets are specific to the act. There are just                  that they’re in a bridle so I can lift one point,                   on an Avid editing system and it took six months
over 225 axes of motion in the show. Fifty on                    traverse left/right or move upstage/downstage                       to load all the material into it, six months to get
the grid, another 12 in the LED panels, 18 axes                  and lift as well all with the same joystick. Each                   a first cut and six months of refining to create
in the tracks and trolleys, plus all of the rotates              point can lift 600lbs, or I can put it in double                    our own highlight reel of Elvis elements.
and traverse axes.                                               purchase mode and lift 1,200lbs per point.                              “The toughest part was finding great quality
    “On stage level, the MI and the GL set are                        “All five trolleys can work independently of                    footage and shots. The best footage was up to
automation motor-driven; it has a laser guided                   each other without the others knowing, but                          1972, so we have a lot of monochrome imagery
tracking system so it knows when it’s off by                     they have interlocks between them so they                           on the screen though we did treat some of it to
5mm which is pretty handy when you’re trying                     don’t crash. So it’s always looking forward to                      give it colour. There are only two movies that
to move a 90,000lb piece of scenery and you                      see where the other piece is and it will come                       have been converted to HD, so the footage
only have a crew of 20...!”                                      all the way up to it and depending on speed                         looks really old. It is what it is, so the real
    The lifts have four automation control                       (traversing or lifting: max 12’ per second) it                      challenge for me was to try to make the stuff
operators — two in the control booth (one                        knows it can come very close to it.                                 look good.”
doing all of the stage lifts and the other doing                      “They have a belt encoder across the track                         The stills involved another whole process.
all of the drops and moves on the tracks and                     so they keep their position and know where the                      There are 60,000 photos in the Graceland
trolleys) and two backstage operating consoles,                  other one is via wireless communication. Trolley                    archives where Dudnysky spent three days
one left and one right, primarily loading artists                5 interlocks as well with the vertical lighting                     whittling his selection down to 3,000. “I was
and scenery on the tracks and trolleys and                       ladders (TORMS), the gold discs, the Delano                         looking for candid material because we’ve seen
the automated platforms that roam around                         drops (white fabric) and LX2 (lighting truss                        enough Elvis poses. I tried to pull anything
backstage.                                                       2) comes through into its path and there’s a                        labelled ‘Restricted’ because those were the
    In addition to the lift systems there is also a              collision hazard, so we also have interlocks.                       ones that hadn’t been seen before.”
versatile track and trolley system: three tracks                      “We only have 10 guys on the crew which is                         They’ve also created graphic designed
carry a total of five trolleys which are used                     very difficult, because we have more automation                      original elements including HD shoots with the
primarily used for transporting artists in and                   than most shows — KÀ has 23 guys!”                                  dancers and musicians. They worked with Mark
out on their scenery. The trolleys have lifting                                                                                      Fisher on a few of the numbers, notably the
winches integrated into them and can traverse                    VIDEO & PROJECTION                                                  opening Juke Box set where Fisher designed the
at 12’ per second.                                               Image content designer, Ivan Dudnysky had the                       bottom half, while for the top half Dudnysky
    Four of the trolleys have two winches inside                 lucky task of sourcing and selecting all the Elvis                  and his team created motion graphics and an
with two pick-points on each one and the fifth                    screen imagery as well as making new graphic                        animation of a giant Juke Box on the LED wall.
one has four lifting points and it can rotate.                   material, and he describes his role in this project                     For ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, which references
    Assistant head of automation Chuck                           “as kind of the key to Elvis, visually-speaking”.                   Elvis’s induction into the Army, Dudnysky
McCafferty described the control system: “In                         The process for selecting the screen content                    made a selection of newspaper clippings,
Stage Technologies’ eChameleon console                           was based around two main groups of material:                       scanned from Col. Parker’s comprehensive press
software, there is what they call a sculptor                     live concerts and the feature film archival                          scrapbook collection, which Fisher and his team
path, so I can hit record and then with a single                 footage and stills from the Graceland archives.                     blew up and made into a giant backdrop.
joystick we can go up/down, right/left and                           Viva Elvis writer/director Vincent Paterson                         They are using a 40’ wide, 30’ tall, 12mm
rotate so whatever I do by hand and it just                      gave them a rundown of how he saw the                               deep LED wall from Daktronics — allegedly
records live.                                                    show playing out and the story he wanted to                         costing US$1.5 million — which is broken into
    “It is very new technology which they are                    tell, including the different elements he was                       eight 5’ wide vertical columns of PST-12i panels.

“The video/film selection has been a very time-consuming process — more than a year and a half...”

30 • TPi FEBRUARY 2010
                                                                                                                             ON THE ROAD: Viva Elvis

Flown on a dedicated truss from the grid which
raises and lowers the screen by automation,
it can also track on and off, side to side, or do
both at the same time and is used in different
configurations on almost on every song in the
    It is extremely bright and as Dudnyski
pointed out: “It was a fine line for me trying
to elevate what’s happening on stage without
taking focus away from the performances.
We could light the whole theatre with the
screens so we have to pull the intensity back
the whole time, sometimes to 15% so we’re not
    Tom Juliano, head of projection, explained
his choices: “I personally recommended
Daktronics for this project because I felt strongly
about their custom fabrication, specifically for
the system that they were designing for us.
    “We had two main conditions for the screen        compensate for that deflection.
design. The weight limitation couldn’t exceed             “Usually for the quick one-off shows in
1,300lbs per column and their concept was to          rock’n’roll or theatre touring they have giant
build it without fans of which we had over 64         locks and a coffin key to hold it in place, but
for each 4’ x 5’ panel.                               for us we needed to reduce the weight and we
    “Without the fans it became lighter. It’s a       needed the ability to adjust it dynamically based
huge power saver for us and it helped audio           on our conditions here in the theatre.
because they don’t hear the fan noise, and we             “Our particular application — this size screen
have never reached above 85°F of operating            in a permanent installation on a flying line-set
temperature. We now have a total weight,              where not only does the LED wall traverse but it
including all the cables, of approximately            also goes up and down — is quite unique and I
9,800lbs. So that was a huge weight off               understand this was a first for Daktronics.”
people’s shoulders!                                       Juliano worked with Galen Price on the           and then when they come to a certain pre-
    “The second condition was that we had to          installation. He continued: “We have a custom        determined spot, it just slows down at about 6”
make it fit a very tight space — no deeper than        truss that flies out to the grid so we can hide       apart until they slowly ‘kiss’ each other.
6” — as we were concerned about other set             the screen. As the truss flies in, not only can           “From the trolleys down to the LED columns
elements around it, and had to devise a way           we separate it into eight different columns at       we have 14’ stingers or steel cables, and then
to make it as thin as possible without anything       different spacings between them, but it allows       from the bottom trim of the wall is about 40’ in
sticking out of the back.                             us to change the speed and/or bring them all         total and the truss can fly all the way up to the
    “Daktronics’ solution was to build a custom       together to make one solid 30’ x 40’ wall. It’s      grid where it collapses on a scissor.”
box frame of solid steel into which the 7” x 7”       on eight individual trolleys that are individually       The tiles are surface mounted with the
LED tiles are built, so if necessary I can go up      controlled via the front-end automation system.      individual LEDs inside the surface mount,
and actually remove it live during the show, hot-         “In the cueing of the show we are actually       typically called ‘three-in-one’. There are 48 7”
swap it and pop a new one in while the frame          able to make it look as though the walls are         x 7” tiles per panel and eight panels in each of
remains untouched.                                    individually run and they can travel out left        the eight columns, making 384 tiles per column
    “The frame is hung with a custom centre           and right diagonally, or that they can come in       or a total of 3,072 tiles... and 786,432 individual
spine that keeps the entire unit rigid and allows     together as one solid wall. We have what we          LEDs!
us to keep it from flexing — it weighs about           call ‘anti-swipe’ in our software to prevent the         The final resolution of the screen is 1024 x
1,200lbs and over a distance it tends to want         walls smacking into each other or into anything      768 and the aspect ratio is 4:3 — the projection
to ‘banana shape’ so you have to try and              else, so the system can run at full speed            in general remains square.

                                                                                                                                         TPi FEBRUARY 2010 • 31
                                                                                                                               ON THE ROAD: Viva Elvis

“I recommended Daktronics because I felt strongly about their custom fabrication...”
SYSTEM DESIGN                                                    playback which is supported by an Avitech Multi-Viewer
Juliano described his system design: “I could take a live        installation. This allows us to monitor all outputs without
feed in several different formats, like SDI or HD-SDI, or even   ever having to turn on a projector. We also have a
take video over the web and ingest it into my system and         Widget Designer Pro — a Coolux remote device control
play it live on my screen, which we did for Guy LaLiberté’s      and program interface application installed with a 7”
poetic mission where he did a live broadcast from space.         touchscreen monitor which is used to trigger cues and or
We put in on the LED wall here and had a cool two-hour           take control of our projectors remotely.
event in the theatre.                                                “Our building has been designed for scalability
    “We have six Coolux Pandoras Box servers (two                and almost our entire network, signal transport and
configured with an SDI live input) which I specifically chose      communication is transmitted over miles and miles of
because of their flexibility and their unique interface which     50µm fibre, made by Corning. We have fibre connections
is very user-friendly. It’s a media server application which     pretty much everywhere throughout the entire building
allows us to play all of our video on the LED wall or through    which allows us to be very smart and creative because
our projectors with dual DVI output on each server.              although our theatre is huge, our personal space is quite
    “I’ve got two Pro servers on which I can do up to 16         tight.”
layers of video and 32 of graphics, plus four standard               At previews they used projection in three songs,
servers. Basically I have a plethora of room depending           although they were looking for more opportunities to
on the size of the content, and our Media Manager Pro            do so. There are six Christie DS+10K-M projectors at FOH
(timeline-based playback control), makes it very easy to         with two mercury lamps on each used during ‘Love Me
implement new content from our designer and his team.            Tender’ (with Army footage on a downstage scrim) and               NEXT MONTH, WE
Our timeline resembles many media editing applications on        on ‘Burning Love’ (for two and a half minutes on to a            CONCLUDE OUR VIVA
the market today such as Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro.        downstage film screen).                                            ELVIS REPORT AS WE
    “We have multiple layers to which we can add many                Additionally there are two overhead High End DL3             FOCUS ON THE AUDIO
different clips of video and it allows us to intermix those      projectors hung at the edge of the proscenium which,             & LIGHTING DESIGNS,
videos together and be more creative. If Ivan gives us a         in ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’, project footage of Elvis’s        AND EXPLORE THE
video and doesn’t want to re-render it but just add some         wedding to Priscilla Presley down on to the giant 60’ wide           REACTIONS TO
colour or trim it, we also have the capability to do that live   wedding veil as it comes out on stage.                                THE SHOW’S
and pretty fast.                                                 TPi                                                                 GRAND OPENING
    “On the Coolux system I have preview function for                                       Photography by Diana Scrimgeour

                                                                                                                                       TPi FEBRUARY 2010 • 33

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