After the great success of “Deans, the musical”, Studio100, Frank Van Laecke, Dirk Brossé and Allard Blom came together to honor the victims of the first world war by creating a spectacular musical! Director Frank Van Laecke: Surrounded by the horror of the trenches and the hope that glows in pristine field of poppies. It cannot be more symbolic! That’s where this Spectacle-Musical is all about. Horror and Hope! The front is a list with many faces.

Together with Studio100, we are standing with this creation on the eve of a huge challenge. 14-18 guarantees a huge spectacle, in every aspect! An in Belgium/Europe unseen scenographic tour of force. A moving stand for over 1500 people that zooms in and out on a particular action or event during the show. 14-18 will be performed in the Nekkerhal in Mechelen on a surface of two football fields. The key-word of the show is movement, our specialty! The entire show will be a unique experience for the audience that will have the idea of being on a film set where one will be thrown between great war scenes and intimate emotional key moments between the main characters.

The moving grandstand

To create a complete and unique experience, somehow the audience has to come closer to a particular scene or has to move away to create a huge mass scene. The solution… a moving grandstand! This grandstand is a 33m x 54,6m x 8,3m steel structure which weighs over 135.000kg (empty), completely filled with people it goes over 270.000kg.

Movement and positioning

To move the 270.000kg structure in a perfect straight line we installed 24 powered units underneath the steel frame. Each powered unit drives two sets of wheels.

The grandstand moves on a total of 368 wheels. Once the grandstand is moving it cannot stop immediately.

When it’s driving at its top speed of 0,5m/s it needs 0,5m to come to a complete stop after a potential emergency break. In normal situations the stand accelerates and slows down in a manner the people on it won’t even notice they are moving… at first.

The position of the grandstand is tracked and guided by two laser eyes. These eyes position the grandstand perfectly with huge precision.

The Cable Festoon

This moving grandstand needs a lot of power and has to receive and send a lot of signals to the lights, sound, actors and of course our driving props. Because the grandstand is moving, it’s not possible to just plug everything in. The best way to solve this, was installing a 120m long WI-track holding a 175m cable festoon. This way, power, signal and everything necessary can be provided to the control desks on top of the grandstand. The festoon consists out of 24 cables, so a total of 4,2Km cable is taking care of all data and power transport during each show.

The props

The base, a WI stage wagon

The WI Stage wagons are all wagons with a height of 180mm in which we integrated a state of the art Drive Unit.

The “base” wagon measures 1,6m x 2,7m and is used to house all technical equipment like the navigation system.

Each wagon is laser controlled, just like the stand. Two laser eyes attached to each structure have to determine the position of every wagon.

These eyes are positioned in such a way that they can see at least three reflectors at the same time.

The stage wagons can move with a precision of millimeters, although a realistic safety distance between the various elements is kept at all times.

The Wireless network is one of the most important keys for the wagon’s system efficiency. It is unacceptable to have any disturbance/interference on the WIFI network. That’s why it is a 5,2 GHz network, this is much easier to get away from all disturbances of Mobile phones and other local WIFI systems.

Implementing a custom made safety system was necessary to guarantee the reliability of the full system.

The connectivity of each wagon is constantly checked and if there is a disturbance or bad connection after 1 second, (this is the time a client needs to find another access point) you get a warning!

The WIFI system has 4 access points and 11 clients (the props).

The 4 access points are located at fixed locations in the Nekkerhall. All clients are driving around in an area of 50m x 150m.

The WIFI safety App allows us to control the WIFI connection constantly and warns us directly for any signal loss.

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Mechelen, Belgium