The Gearhouse Group of Companies recently provided comprehensive technical support, in the form of rigging, audio, lighting, trussing, structures and power, for the successful execution of the electronic dance production: Sensation Innerspace, which took place at the Coca Cola Dome in Northriding on 7 September.
Gearhouse takes pride in being one of very few equipment suppliers able to fulfil the requirements of an event of this magnitude, while continuing to provide effective service to regular clients. This was the debut event for Sensation in South Africa and the staging of it brought about quite a few “firsts” for technical supplier, Gearhouse SA, as well.
Gearhouse was contracted to G and G Productions, through technical consultants Strike Productions and worked hand in hand with Technical Production Manager, Dave Tudor and Mushroom Productions, who handled the overall local production of the event. Project Manager Anthony Banks, handled the onsite co-ordination of Gearhouse’s technical elements with the assistance of Madeleine Whitehead. Banks explained that for Gearhouse the main challenge of this event was the sheer scale of it: “It’s a truly massive event. Over the get in, show and dismantle period, a total of 330 technical people and 260 stagehands were involved in just our part of the event … that’s close to 8000 man hours altogether!”
This was the biggest rigging event ever carried out by the company. Rigging Operations Manager Kendall Dixon, together with a team of 14 riggers (8 working in the roof and 6 ground riggers) installed a mammoth 136 motors in the roof for the set and lighting requirements. In addition, each point was bridled resulting in a final 272 hanging points.
Without the luxury of time to complete all the hanging work in the production week before Innerspace began, the team managed to squeeze in three days of pre-rig time mid-August which gave them a jump start on the task.
Senior Audio Technician Llewellyn Reineke elaborated on the audio requirements for Sensation 2013. “For starters, instead of playing to one end as the venue is traditionally configured for large music events; the sound system needed to cover the entire floorspace. No less than 3 PA systems were needed for this “in-the-round” sound coverage.”
The main PA ring comprised 8 stacks of L-Acoustics V-Dosc, each with their respective 6x 8 L-Acoustics SB28 Subs whilst the second ring was made up of a combination of 24x Kara and 48x KUDO, each with their respective SB18 and SB118 Subs.
The entire audio system was distributed via Neutrik OpticalCon Quad Fiber Optic with 6x Lake LM44s running DANTE. This was the first time that Gearhouse has put this many L-Acoustics boxes in any indoor venue in South Africa, and they executed the process seamlessly.
According to Lighting Operations Manager, Stuart Andrews, some careful planning was called for to fulfil the Technical Rider received from the international production team. 240 sections, (close to a kilometre), of Prolyte H 30V trussing was configured into a “mother grid” suspended beneath the main Dome grid. From this the event’s intricate mobile ball system was suspended on winches.
The ball system was one of the technical highlights of the event, creating a false “ceiling” which could move up and down as one unit to change levels and rake, or individually, giving the illusion that the spheres were floating in the air.
Gearhouse was commissioned to supply a substantial portion of the lighting rig including Mac 2000 profiles and washes, Robin 600 LED’s, Martin Atomic strobes and a variety of cabling to run these and the production’s travelling rig as well.
Andrews believes that this production set new standards within its genre. Certainly the scale of the event and the level of proficiency demanded of the suppliers was clearly illustrated by the fact that, at the height of the load-in, no less than 26 lighting crew were working round the clock, in shifts.
An additional challenge was posed by the location of the dimmers under the main stage, which called for very long cable runs; 18 metres up to the truss, across 40 metres and over a gap of 10 metres before reaching the first lighting fixtures.
Structures Operations Manager Anton Hattingh’s department was involved in the assembly and installation of the 14 m wide circular main stage. This stage was constructed on castors enabling the team to set up the stage and lighting/trussing simultaneously but in different areas, so that the stage could simply be rolled into place when the lighting rig was complete and in the air. The mobility of the stage was purely a time saving mechanism, which served its purpose tremendously well and kept the installation moving to schedule. This was the first time that the Gearhouse team had been able to simultaneously complete lighting and structures without interruption; a neat time-cheating trick that bears repeating on future events.
Another circular stage of 9 metres wide and 1.5 metres high was constructed atop the main stage with a revolve mechanism (supplied by Sensation) for use during the DJ sets. The revolve stage ensured that the DJs were visible to the entire audience.
Two additional B stages were built each containing a water fountain and pyrotechnic displays with a further four dance platforms for performers placed on opposing ends of the main stage. The production supplied set elements over these decks so it was critical that they were built exactly to specification
“No problem for us at all; apart from the fact, of course, that all the stage sections were circular and all our stage podium pieces are square,” joked Hattingh. “Actually, I was really pleased with how smoothly we managed to pull it off, considering the number of areas and the enormous amount of strategically placed crowd barrier required for an event in-the-round like this. It took around 25 tons of scaffold and 12 tons of crowd barrier putting this one together.” No small feat indeed!
Although the AV component of the event was small in comparison to the other technical elements, it was nonetheless integral to the event. Gearhouse supplied 4, 18k Christie Roadster projectors, double-stacked at each of the two circular screens to relay live feed from camera and to announce the DJs as they started each session. Cameras, control gear and screen surfaces all travelled as part of the international production.
Gearhouse’s Power division, under the supervision of Operations Manager Antony Sackstein, provided multiple synchronised generators to supply power for lighting, audio, AV, lasers, motors and hoists. The stage arrangement also necessitated some serious cable runs for Power – 150m to the main stage, 200m to each of the B stages and another 120m to supply the Front of House position.
Of course, getting this amount of equipment prepped and transferred from the warehouses into the venue took some logistical manoeuvring to bring everything in time.
Set up days entailed much coming and going of Gearhouse vehicles; lighting equipment filled three pantechnicon vans plus a fourth for trussing, rigging packed up tight into another one and a half pantechnicons, audio used pantechnicons six and seven and crowd control barrier occupied the eighth and ninth trucks. Structures led the pack in two interlink truck/trailers.
Gearhouse South Africa was thrilled at the opportunity to provide professional and efficient service and unprecedented quality for an event of this huge scale.
Sensation Innerspace 2013 South Africa was presented by Samsung and featured Mr White, Nic Fanciulli, Ryan Marciano and Sunnery James, Daniel & Juan Sanchez and Thomas Gold.