The Visual act Team has been working very hard in Kazakhstan recently for the opening ceremony of the seventh Asian Games Winter Olympics.
On the 30th of January in Astana the opening ceremony for the Asian games took place and we were there with all of our equipment. We had thirty-two winches, five Visual act Advanced Wagons, one hybrid stage wagon and three Visual act Analog Wagon track systems.
The ceremony took place in a football stadium on the outskirts of Astana during most of January. It was bloody cold there, but thankfully we were all issued with big warm jackets from Visual act especially for this trip. The jackets were great, but when the temperatures began heading towards minus forty, it was time to get inside and do some work.
In the three hour ceremony we flew two giant horses along two 140m tracks that were arranged in arcs along the long sides of the arena. The horses were enormous and had wings that flapped and also they were covered in flashy LED’s. The horse sculptures were very detailed (both horses were male) and they flew very nicely along our side tracks. The motion was provided from a Visual act Analog Wagon style system that had the drive motors pushing against the hanging track and being operated by remote control from stage level.
The side tracks were used again to transport a ‘Sun’ on the VIP side of the stadium and a ‘Moon’ on the other side of the stadium (trash side). We had a lot of fun with the sun and the moon in rehearsals because the original idea included acrobats ‘performing’ sunbeams on the sun and the moon. We found out that it just wasn’t workable to hang people upside-down from the underside of the sun, so we came up with an expurgated version of the original idea that was much safer with just three happy sunbeams.
The sun rehearsel before the "three happy sunbeams"-decision. Photo by Andrew Colhoun, Visual act AB.
A bird’s eye view of the stage wagons before they were dressed. You can also see the curve of the side track. Photo by Andrew Colhoun, Visual act AB.
In the centre of the stadium roof was a 17m diameter diaphragm that opened at various intervals during the show to reveal different large objects. We had a circular truss which was mounted to the outside of this diaphragm which was used to fly the Kazakhstan national symbol, the eagle. The truss had another Analog Wagon variant that had the bird suspended from wires. We were able to fly the bird up, down and along the 18m track. The effect was to have the eagle soaring around a character on stage and the que was met with a great response from the audience in the stadium.
Here is some of the impressive objects that we moved around. Photo by Andrew Colhoun, Visual act AB.
We had a Visual act Advanced Wagon that was ‘dressed’ to look like a boat and was used during a storm sequence in the show where the boat sailed a very rough sea. They even had rain inside the arena for this effect coming from the same truss as the side tracks. This rain effect was great, but during rehearsals, they would activate the water without giving any warning which was always quite funny as long as it wasn’t you who got drenched.
Four smaller Advanced Wagons were used to provide four pieces of a large tree that was placed in the centre of the stage during a very tasteful and well choreographed piece of acrobatic flying.
The view from the ceiling. Photo by Andrew Colhoun, Visual act AB.
The thirty-two Visual act Winches were used as 16 2d objects, and to fly eight large projection sheets into the centre of the stage for one of the cues and again to fly an actor onto the stage on a flying carpet. All of the winches were mounted in the ceiling. (See photo on the side)
Yes, it was a very rickety plank that we had to walk on to make repairs or adjustments. It’s a good job that we tested everything before it left the workshop.
The show was a big success and was shown live in many countries of Asia, but nobody I know has seen it. However, thanks to the wonder of computer technology you can re-live the fantastic show experience on Youtube.