Vertigo gets the 2008 Laureus Awards moving.
In February, rigging, motion control and structures specialist Vertigo was brought in by TV production company Done and Dusted to deploy its CyberHoist and Vertex motion control systems to animate major set elements as part of the complex rigging of the Laureus World Sports Awards in St. Petersburg, Russia.
This year’s event, staged at the new Mariinsky Concert Hall, was broadcast to massive audiences around the world and attracted its usual stellar gathering of ‘A-list’ sports personalities, celebrities and politicians — with Russian president Vladimir Putin as guest of honour.
It was the third year in succession that Vertigo rigged the ceremony, after the previous two years in Barcelona. Vertigo project manager and rigging designer Tim Roberts commented: “The project involved the challenges you’d expect of working in Russia, with temperatures as low as -20°C during load-in.
“Because the venue is a concert hall, the roof has a full acoustic ceiling with trap doors allowing rigging points to be installed through into the main roof structure. This limits the opportunity to place rigging points where they’re required, and made the suspension of all the show elements a challenge — whilst adhering to a design brief that required minimal, unobtrusive rigging, so as not to destroy the look of the venue.
“Finally, due to the nature of the building, great sensitivity and care were required to ensure that it remained pristine after the production had left.”
The four main rigging elements consisted of lighting trusses, rigged over a steeply raked seating block, requiring some clever motor bridle work to avoid damaging auditorium seats; a ‘chandelier show’ flown on CyberHoist intelligent chain hosts from the main lighting truss; a 28m diameter curved Barco MiTrix screen upstage; and a tracking, three-ton Barco I-Lite LED video screen.
Part of the video package provided by Creative Technology (project managed by Alex Leinster), the I-Lite screen was flown from a four-axis Vertex computerised wire rope winch system. The set design’s open nature meant the winches had to be concealed in the roof void, which required extremely complex wire rope diversion to send the cables through the ceiling openings, down through a spreader truss, and along the screen header truss to track each of the four screen panels independently.
Roberts added: “The screen was required to able to transform from a complete block into a centre opening, two-side opening or a single side opening; and as the event was being shot in HD it was imperative that the joins in the screen were imperceptible.
“Although Vertigo has tracked many screens before, the client was adamant that this had to be the best ever seen. Despite the physical demands of dealing with cable stretch over such a long distance, and going through so much diversion, with some genius programming from Vertex operator Steve Waddington, Vertigo delivered exactly that.”
Production credits also included set designer Patrick Doherty, lighting designer Gurdip Mahal and rigging crew chief Ken Mehmed, and Done and Dusted’s head of production Rachel French, who commented: “Vertigo played a major part in making this event happen and, as usual, their team was fantastic.”
CT’s sister company, Dimension Audio provided a d&b loudspeaker system along with other equipment including Sennheiser radio mics and a Yamaha PM5D mixing console at FOH.
Award winners included Roger Federer, Lewis Hamilton and Paula Radcliffe. The ceremony is also a platform to showcase the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, a humanitarian programme that operates on every continent and has improved the lives of over 150,000 young people since its inception.
Ryan Pierse & Ian Walton (Getty Images)
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