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High-flying dreams

People, objects and even dream sequences soaring over the stage is a tradition rooted in theater. “I’ve always been interested in the dynamic props that have forever been a part of the theater, and especially how this works.” Peter Nellen can still recall his first experience with kinetic effects over 20 years ago. At the time, Lightcompany had been hired to provide the lighting for a stage production of A Clockwork Orange in Bonn. “We raised [German punk band] Die Toten Hosen up from the basement on platform lifts just as the lighting trusses emerged from the ceiling. At the end of the gig, the band, trusses and lighting all disappeared and the play continued.” It had already dawned on Nellen that the space above the heads of the protagonists and audience added another dimension to the theater experience. Here was a great deal of creative space for staging dynamic shows.

Today that kind of kinetic wizardry is a staple of the entertainment circus and business as usual for Peter Nellen. “I came across CyberHoist motion control systems as managing director of Lightcompany and ended up buying their motors.” Then he merged Cyberhoist Germany Gesellschaft für szenische Bewegungen mbH, founded eight years ago and headquartered in Neuss, with his company. In a more recent development, Lightcompany and Cyberhoist joined the satis&fy fold in 2014.

Huge strides have been made in dynamic set pieces over the last 20 years. For one, crews can set up and take down mechanized gear much faster these days. Theatergoers are accustomed to long intermissions with plenty of time for scenery to be shuttled to and fro. Show business audiences are not that patient, and a production company that isn’t up to speed won’t stay in business for long. Speed really does matter, and spectacular stunts have to be put into action rapidly. That brings up concerns about safety. Wild-eyed creativity, insanely versatile equipment, and rigorous safety standards don’t mix easily, but intrepid designers and technicians still find ways to conjure stunning new tricks for clients seeking something special. Kinetic staging is still very much a frontier and the Cyberhoist crew is out there exploring it every day. That’s why the company has earned its reputation for being a trailblazer in this event technology. As Peter puts it, “It takes a tightly focused, customer- centric product range to make this work.” And that’s exactly what Cyberhoist offers. The two main lines CyberHoist and CyberMotion consist of components  designed to move stages, lighting, cameras, artists and other objects that are part of the show in every direction and at the fastest speeds safety will allow. CyberHoist II, for example, is the latest generation of the world’s first intelligent hoist. With a duty cycle rating 60% higher than its predecessor, it’s built to heave heavy loads with a positioning accuracy of 0.1 mm.

Some jaw-dropping displays of this innovative stage technology in action were to be seen on Madonna’s world tour, at the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, and at Rock in Rio, with motorized trusses and spinners flying in every direction and firing off awe-inspiring pyrotechnical effects. Surprisingly easy to handle, the InMotion3D control software’s object-oriented programming puts all kinds of capabilities at users’ fingertips, automatic safety functions included, and the MotionCue3D software platform sets standard for utility and convenience. An entire show can be programmed in a matter of minutes, with every motion coupled to lighting effects and video content. Cyberhoist relies on flexible, modular designs to keep pace with setups that can be sequenced so quickly. The motion experts from Neuss deliver fast, object-oriented solutions that are robust enough to take on tour. Easy programming, compact devices and all-in-one design add up to a winning proposition that lends wings to every customers’ high-flying dreams.

Photo: Ralph Larmann

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