The ability to create endless, repetitive movements unlike any other in the market made the choice of technology easy.
When the set designer Pierre-André Weitz at the Vienna State Opera presented a three-floor construction requiring flexibility and a large variety of complex movements for the new production of the opera Armide, the technical management started their research to fulfill his wishes.
“What made the entire project a challenge was the demand for freedom of the movement of the set.” says Benjamin Häusler, responsible for the production at the Vienna State Opera. “Each level of the 3 part stacked steel construction must be able to rotate about an eccentric point on its supporting level. Single motions of each level or ‘cube tower’ as well as the movement of all three as a unit must be possible.”
These requirements brought the Opera’s team to Visual act Scandinavia AB.
The stage set for ‘Armide’ consists of three moving platforms in three levels. Each of the platforms is automated with one Visual act Advanced Wagon. The center platform rotates as programmed by the user. The position of the rotation point of the second level changes as the center platform rotates. This position is then passed on to the controller of the second level. The angle of the second level with respect to the first is then programmed by the user. This allows the Advanced drive units mounted in the platform of the second level to synchronize the motion of this level with the center platform. In the same manner, the motion of the third level will be synchronized with the second. Encoders placed at the rotation points allow for accurate control of the positioning.
The user programmed all of the motions described in the storyboard in advance and tested all movements in simulation mode prior to rehearsals. After moving the constructions to the stage, the motions could easily be adjusted during rehearsals.
In addition to rotation, all three platforms could be moved sideways as a single unit, allowing the complete construction to be moved on and off the stage.
The technicians and engineers from the Opera installed all the wagon components into the steel and aluminum constructions built in the Opera’s workshops. Benjamin Häusler says: “The buildup of the set design including installation of all Visual act components and a first test to check basic functionality took us two and a half days. Commissioning of the system and programming of the motions were completed after an additional seven days. Considering that the Visual act control system was a new set up – this was reasonable.”
“It was a complicated, but therefore very thrilling challenge”, says Michael Wilfinger, deputy technical director at the Vienna State Opera. “We’re very glad that the decision was made to let Visual act carry out this project, as – apart from minor teething troubles – the system works excellently and very reliably. We could play all rehearsals and performances without incidents. Especially the permanent availability of the Visual act support team was very helpful.”