The much talked about musical ”14-18” by Studio 100 opened April 20th, 2014 in the Nekkerhal in Mechelen, Belgium.
‘14-18’ is a musical spectacle that takes place during the First World War. The show is built up around Visual act wagons. 11 set pieces move, often all of them together. The additional effect of travelling up and down though the stage area on an audience tribune together with 2000 people makes this show an extraordinary experience.
Nekkerhal is a famous exposition hall, about the size of two football fields end to end. The tribune moves 150 meters – it literally zooms into intimate scenes and zooms out for spectacular tableaus – giving the viewer the perfect distance for viewing the spectacle.
The tribune is based on the patented Visual act Advanced wagon system and uses laser navigation with dual scanners. A special positioning algorithm was developed to control the motion, keeping the 250 ton tribune on a straight line by modulating only the speeds of the 24 drive units, which are fixed in place.
All of the scenic wagons use standard Visual act components. Some are extended with I/O trigger cabinets to synchronize moving scenery on the wagons. This allows all motion in the show to be controlled from the Visual act operator desk.
To determine the best method to control the tribune we started a software development project. As the tribune is supplied by WI Creations and makes use of fixed Kinesys drive units, part of the project involved creating an interface to the Kinesys drives. The second part required the development of an algorithm to control a wagon with fixed drive wheels. We had prior experience with this from our analog wagons that have a “tank mode” function. But while the analog wagon has 2 drive units and swivel casters, the tribune has 24 fixed drive units and over 100 fixed casters. It can, theoretically, move only along a straight line. By controlling the torque and speeds of the individual drive units we can actually move the tribune in an arc with a large but controllable radius. The next challenge was the accuracy and this was overcome by creating software to make small adjustments based on the data provided by our laser navigation.
Our client WI Creation is also our rental partner for Advanced wagons. With this project WI Creation now have a great convoy of Advanced wagons for rental. They also have first-hand knowledge of how the system works and how it can be used.
Much credit to Studio 100, the production company for ’14-18’, they managed to create a great show with amazing stage set around our wagons. Their creative team has made the most of the wagons functionality – great flexibility and eye catching effects.
’14 – 18 ‘ is a joint project of Studio 100, Frank Van Laecke, Dirk Brosse and Allard Blom.