With a stage dominated by 13m high video screens running on an oval trackway, which parted to reveal the performers behind, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s production team placed safety at the top of their priorities alongside spectacle.
The On The Road II (OTR II) tour designed by entertainment architects Stufish called on Belgium-based WIcreations (WI) to supply and risk-assess the scenic motion control systems both for this element of the set and a ‘Star Lift’ used to move the artistes.
“As automation gets increasingly important in entertainment, safety is the most important aspect,” says WI owner and founder Hans Willems.
As well as providing safety certification to various European and US standards, the company deployed its new MCA automation system to control the lift and the video panels, at venues including America’s FedExField (cap. 82,000), Washington DC, Italy’s San Siro Stadium (80,000) in Milan, the UK’s Etihad Stadium (55,100) in Manchester and Germany’s RheinEnergieStadion (50,000) in Cologne.
The screens concealed a structural “performer wall”, part of the set built by fellow Belgian company Stageco, which comprised a series of boxed spaces occupied by performers, who were by turns hidden and revealed. The screen tracked around the stage, using the company’s video Space-Frame structure to stabilize it in high winds.
“The challenging part was starting from a standard Space-Frame video system,” says Willems. “We had to design a special rigging system to assemble the video screens and then make an easy and safe transfer of the screens – in mid-air – to the tracking dollies. We achieved this by using variable speed hoists and the MCA-pad control.”