Twelve video screens, five lighting pods, and six FX trusses moving individually or together, powered, and steered by 56 different devices, and synchronized with the live music of prog rock legends Genesis. Simple right? Well, not really, but Belgian design, staging, engineering, and project management company WI (WICREATIONS) pulled off the visually stunning and technically complex design with the use of its in-house engineering studio and WIMOTION software and hardware motion control solutions.
Founded in 2005 by StageCo alum Hans Willems, WI has engineered staging for some of the biggest shows of the decade including Beyonce's World Formation tour, The Rolling Stones' No Filter tour, Ice Age Live, and Take That's Wonderland tour. For The Last Domino? tour, which reunited the original Genesis members, WI's project lead Koen Peeters had already worked with Woodroffe Basset Design and engineering company WonderWorks interpreting and creating designs for past tours, including at least three for the Rolling Stones.
The WI set for The Last Domino? is comprised of five rolling risers which create an 18m x 11m main stage and two lower platforms with 12 moving video structures which, when rotated 180 degrees, reveal 144 moving lights on the back. The screens can each show separate video content, or move and fuse together to become a panoramic, synchronized display creating strikingly different stage environments.
We talked to Koen Peeters about the WI's contribution to the tour, and what comes next.
Live Design: Tell us about the motion control for the stage elements.
Koen Peeters: The entire motion set of 56 engines and controllers, included the safety distribution hardware and motion desk, are based on proprietary machinery, development and engineering. Assembly is done in-house. We have been working for years on this new system and introduce it to every new project that comes in. More and more operators are finding their way to use the system and have provided us with valuable feedback for continuous development.
We kicked off WIMOTION a few years ago with the Rammstein stage. Meanwhile, it has evolved into a true ecosystem and product family. The WIMOTION desk, software and motion machinery are used to their full in the creative set design of Patrick Woodroffe and Roland Greil.
Genesis technicians have made good use of our automated rigging system during load ins and outs regarding the 12m high LED frames. We integrated the screens into custom-made frames and created the frame-locks to align the 12m 12m tall (and 2m wide) panel frames after their rotation.
Automated rigging is becoming more and more the standard in touring, allowing tours not only to speed up load in times but also reducing injuries and damage to zero. The concept is simple: a row of LED tiles is placed, the grid goes up to the exact preprogrammed position to allow the workers to work at standard height. This automated rigging is part of our WIMOTION system. The motion during the show is described in a thorough risk analysis and the appropriate machinery is chosen to comply with the intended use. But safety for this tour goes beyond the show… it starts when the first flight case rolls into the venue.
LD: Did you expand or upgrade the system for this tour?
KP: In between the two legs of the tour, WIMOTION introduced a new feature called the WIMOTION player, which is a recording of an actual show. Video programmer Ellie Clement used the software to run cues and visualize what the show would look like with the real-time movement. She can do it in her media player, but it is so much easier to do it with actual data. It forms a part of the system proof and check with the real movement of the objects. Clement says, “When we get on site, it’s supposed to be all plug and play. All of the work has been done beforehand.”
In the process of syncing with the other disciplines onset (lighting, video) we introduced our WIMOTION CLOUD collaboration feature of the software, allowing the lighting and video designers to link up with our motion software and develop their content based on the objects in motion, exactly as it would happen during the show. The lighting team also used PosiStageNet protocol to capture the positions of the pods during movement, sending the pods' data and the lighting fixtures inside it to their lighting desk and allowing them to implement a follow-me function to track the artist.
LD: What was the biggest technical challenge on this project?
KP: Probably the biggest challenge of this project were the COVID sanitary restrictions and the on/off periods in between touring. We started developing this set in 2019, had our first rehearsals by the end of 2020. To be put back on hold again until the final kick off for the UK leg of the tour in 2021.
LD: What other WI elements were part of the show?
KP: We engineered and manufactured the five lighting pods each containing16 moving heads, all of them controlled independently from each other and with integrated LED strips. We are also using our patented flooring system for the stage and risers, and delivered the trusses for the mother grid (apart from 6 off sections of 2 meters) and the tracking.
LD: What is next for WI?
KP: We are currently working on several big tours: PML (the ABBA show) and Simply Red, and Rammstein is kicking off again to finish the rest of the tour. Our second warehouse and office extension is happening as we speak and we’re on the lookout for talent to join our team! In our new building, we’ll have the physical capacity to organize training in WIMOTION for motion operators and show designers. The future is exciting…
- Koen Peeters - project lead
- Wessel Fortuin - technical engineer
- Filip Wouters - head R&D
- Xander Ballet - motion programmer / onsite project manager
- Lesly Van Rompaey - motion programmer
- Valentin Stofkooper - motion operator
- Miroslav Kusik - motion operator
- Robert Vrbjar - technician
- Howard Hopkins - production manager
- Stephen “Pud” Jones - tour manager
- Patrick Woodroffe + Roland Greil - lighting and set design
- Jeremy Lloyd - WonderWorks – Technical Set Design
- Mike Humeniuk - stage manager
- Steve Armstrong - head rigger
- Chris Organ - head carpenter
- Roland Greil - lighting direct
- Luke Radin - lighting crew chief
- Marc Brunkhardt - lighting operator
- Ruary Macphie - video director
- Ellie Clement - video designer
- Ray Gwilliams - video operator
Additional Gear Suppliers