Engineering and automation specialist WIcreations is supplying multiple automation elements and control to the massive “Rester Vivant” tour by French megastar Johnny Hallyday, who is known for impressive and spectacular live shows and a great rapport with fans which has spanned a remarkable career stretching back over six decades.
Belgium-based WI was approached to produce an automation solution for three distinctive digital and scenic set elements – a huge skull, six moving video screens and five moving lighting pods - by Hallyday’s production director Roger Abriol. WIcreations has enjoyed a long and productive working relationship with Roger who has looked after Hallyday’s tours since the start of his career. WI is one of his go-to companies for automation, creative engineering and thinking ‘out-of-the-box’.
WI’s project manager is Koen Peeters. Chris Das is out on the road with the tour, co-ordinating and operating the automation using Kinesys K2 software running on a WI optimized control desk, working alongside WI motion assistant, Rick Peeters.
In total, over 50 motorized elements are fundamental to the show – something shifts in every song – an impressive undertaking involving 38 chain hoists, 28 of which are zero speed-full torque models, 10 x non-zero speed hoists and 14 x active WI-motion tracking carts.
Together, all these vari-speed motion controlled devices make up a total of 104 movement cues accessed during the show.
The dynamic multi-layered set and lighting was designed by Dimitri Vassiliu. It is an elegant fusion of classic and modern styles blended into a timeless rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic, which provides both technical wizardry and theatrical magic and straightforward full-on WOW factors to help Hallyday draw his audience right into the action … and keep them enthralled for the 2.5 hour show.
A giant scenic skull – through which Hallyday makes his entrance onto stage - is flown in from the roof … and also tracks up and downstage on 18 metres of WI Touring Track. It is attached to four half-tonne zero speed chain hoists.
Six video screens – of three different sizes - are flown and tracked – using another 108 metres of WI Touring Track to glide them seamlessly into over 20 different looks and positions – from a flat horizontal roof – where they are used highly effectively as a big block lightsource – to a large dramatically angled single surface backdrop which then fragments in different directions to several different shapes.
The screens are made from a special new super lightweight 6 mm proprietary LED product provided by the tour’s video contractor, Swiss and French based Skynight.
The three pairs of screens measure 7.4 metres wide by 2.9 high, 7.9 metres wide by 3.5 high and 8.4 metres wide by 4.0 high respectively, and all are slightly tapered at the offstage edges, maintaining the finesse and clean lines of the stage design.
Twenty-Four Clay Paky Mythos moving lights are also hung on scaff bars sitting on top of the screen tracks.
Each screen is moved by four zero speed 1 tonne chain hoists (500 kg double-reeved) from which some of the positions entail the lower screens moving right down onto the stage just behind the backline. It’s just one of a number of careful moves for which the accuracy and stability of the K2 is needed along with the ever-important WI operator skills!
Chris also has two hawk-eyed spotters onstage looking out for any anomalies, so he can take action immediately should anything odd occur with the motion system.
Five lighting pods upstage accommodate a total of 192 Ayrton Magic Panels and are automated by 10 motion controlled chain hoists - moving up and down constantly throughout the show, creating an incredible variety of looks.
Careful programming ensured that the flexibility required for the moves was achieved. The combination of subtle and dramatic effects all needed great precision, and at times the screens – with all the lighting and atmosphere - looked like they were floating in mid-air!
All of the movement tracking and rigging components pack down neatly into 14 touring dollies for transportation, which is integral to the design of all standard WI tracking systems, and one of the reasons it is so fast to rig and de-rig.
In a touring production this large, with this much complex automation, speed is a key to success!
All the automation was fully set up and prepped in the WI warehouse at Heist-op-den-Berg beforehand, so all the important details were planned up front.
Koen comments: “Johnny is an amazing performer and “Rester Vivant” is a very energetic rock ‘n’ roll show that embraces dramatic scenography and cutting-edge technology. This touring production perfectly showcases what WIcreations is capable of!”
Photos by Louise Stickland