The Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai, which has been touring the world since 2002, returned to Montreal, Quebec in December 2013 for its re-launch as Arena Shows. The production team proposed to lighting designer, Nol van Genuchten the deployment of the BlackTrax realtime tracking solution from CAST BlackTrax Ltd for moving light tracking of performers.
Improving production efficiency
“As lighting designer for the very first edition of Varekai, it’s great to be working on it again as it evolves. With the new arena tour, Varekai is hosted at a different location each week and presents its own lighting challenges allowing me to adapt the lighting to ‘the arena’ of each new environment,” said van Genuchten.
“We introduced BlackTrax as an operational efficiency and cost saving tool as well as a way of calibrating lighting highlights to track performers on the stage area. BlackTrax works by accurately tracking people and objects using a proprietary infra-red sensor and a LED beacon that is attached to a performer giving positional information for X, Y, and Z coordinates.
“Using BlackTrax we placed a tracker and beacon and designated certain fixtures to track certain performers throughout the show. At each venue of the Arena tour, BlackTrax quickly calibrates moving lights making sure that the performer and high-res light beam control is used, and that the beam of light is kept at minimal width,” added van Genuchten.
BlackTrax enhances creativity
As well as significant recurring cost savings, BlackTrax became interesting as it gave van Genuchten and Varekai more creative control with lighting.
“With BlackTrax, I had a lot more freedom to create and place highlights on performers within the imagery and doing so in a way that I couldn’t have done with a traditional follow spot.”
“The BlackTrax software interface is very well developed and the physical practicality of creating trackable LEDs and beacons worked well. What’s more, BlackTrax is supported by a very good technical team at CAST that were there to assist us with any queries we had.”
“BlackTrax is a very powerful tool for the future,” concluded van Genuchten.
Gil Densham, President and CEO of CAST Group Group said: “Did you know that in English “Varekai” means “wherever”, which also describes the renown of Cirque du Soleil for its highly creative, hugely artistic entertainment and clever leveraging of technology to consistently deliver magical results! BlackTrax is the solution that makes possible seamless, spontaneous creativity + artistry + technology – its job was to simplify. Nol and the creative team of magicians + artists used hot-wired technology to help spin a thrilling, vibrant and colorful yarn. And, we are pleased that BlackTrax played its part by streaming the critical, precise, target coordinates to lighting technology in realtime so the planned creative effects augmented the artistry.”