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Laser F/X On-line Newsletter - Special Reports

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Urström at the 1999 Stockholm Water Festival



Day 3 - Thursday August 5 - Set-up day 3

    The pressure is really on today with one day to go before the first show. The first few hours were spent organizing our requirements with the festival technical director. The "platform" to hold the Chroma 10 which had appeared on the white tower proved to be inadequate. It consisted of two wooden I beams over the water which held the cased laser. There was no space for anyone to work on the laser unless they could walk on water.

Adela negotiates with the festival production manager
Adela negotiates with the festival production manager

    An alternative location was then negotiated. Jan wanted the beam laser low to the water so as to utilize the reflections and scanning from the water as artistic effects. The organizers were unable to find a location or a shelter for the equipment and a compromise was reached where the system would be mounted on the roof of a container. The container was located on a large barge which was part of an assembly of 4 barges that formed a floating restaurant/bar and VIP lounge for festival guests.
     A truck mounted hydraulic crane was brought in and the laser was gently lifted over the water from the white tower, rolled down the sidewalk and then lifted onto the roof of the container. Power and water feeds were re-routed to the new location.

C10 laser is moved into position
C10 laser is moved into position to begin set-up.

    Now that the beam laser location had been changed, the smoke machine locations had to be changed so as to give good coverage no matter which direction the wind was blowing. A smoke machine was re-located by boat to the white tower and another re-located to the corner of one of the restaurant barges near the beam laser position. The local production crew then had to make a couple of 5-pin XLR cables to go from the beam laser position to each of the smoke machines so they could be remotely controlled. A power cable had to be flown over the water to the White tower and another run along the side of the restaurant/bar barges to operate these units.
    That afternoon, the tech crew went shopping for parts and supplies needed to complete the installation. We went to a store called "Clas Ohlson" which proved to be an interesting experience. The store carried everything from power tools such as band-saws and drills, to computers and peripherals, to electrical cables and power connectors, to pumps and plumbing, to car and bicycle parts - a sort of hardware supermarket. Locating suitable multi-conductor cables and connectors proved to be a bit of a challenge but eventually we emerged with most of what we needed.

View of the massive "Fire Tower"

Adela negotiates with the festival production manager

View of the massive "Fire Tower" before the PA was installed. The first platform at the 12 meter level was to provide access to the "basket" for the performer; the second platform was for the flame-thrower operator while the flame-thrower on the top is at the 18 meter level. The C10 laser is hoisted onto the top of the container by crane.

    We headed back to the site to see that the polarisation preserving screen had been mounted on the Opera and the polarisation preserving screen was being raised on the palace. Clouds had rolled in and it began to rain leading to a frantic scramble to get things covered with tarps before they got wet.

Raising the 27 X 12 meter screen on the Palace

Raising the 27 X 12 meter screen on the Palace - note the rain on Arvid and Jourgen's backs

    A reporter from radio Stockholm arrived at Master Control just after the rain ended. He interviewed Jan live on the air using a backpack mounted FM transmitter. During the afternoon, a reporter from one of the daily newspapers that had been rather hostile towards the idea of eliminating the fireworks dropped by. He took lots of photos of the crew at work and asked a lot of questions.

Raising the 27 X 12 meter screen on the Palace
Radio Stockholm interview.

    Michael Sollinger of LaserAnimation Sollinger GmbH in Germany arrived on site with Alex Bresinsky. Michael checked out the installation and offered some technical advice on the 3D set-up.

Jan discusses tech details with Alex and Michael
Jan discusses tech details with Alex and Michael

    Adela had requested that the festival organisers provide a tent or other shelter for the beam laser but none was forthcoming by late in the day. More phone calls and running around ensued and Jan finally found one, rushed to the store minutes before closing, and bought it. Setting it up on the top of the container over the beam laser in a stiff breeze proved to be a challenge requiring 5 people to hold it in place until it could be secured with nylon straps.
    After a short supper break, the next major challenge was to string the control cables that would operate the laser located in the flying "basket" on steel cables over the water. 200 meters of DB25 and 220 volt power cable, which had been prepared in advance, was carefully clipped to a thin steel cable stung slightly above and between the two main steel cables which held the 'basket'. Adela spent an hour dangling from a harness over the water while Arvid in a boat and myself on the tower helped feed the cables up to her for installation.

Adela dangles from a harness
Adela dangles from a harness while installing the 'basket' laser control and power cables

    A secondary steel cable was flown over the water from the white tower to the container where the beam laser was located. This was used to get the control cables from the white tower to the control box and DSP at the beam laser position.
    The installation of the laser above the "basket" took the rigging crew and Adela over an hour as they hung over the water, 16 meters below, by safety harnesses in the scaffolding of the Fire tower.

Arvid and Adela ready the MicroYag projector for installation in the basket

Arvid and Adela ready the MicroYag projector for installation in the basket - Gas cylinders for the flame-thrower atop the tower can be seen in the background.

    A frame had been welded into position at the top of the basket to hold the projector. The heavy projector had to be hauled into place, then secured in the correct position for the beam projections. The basket was then sent over to the white tower where the crew again had to dangle over the water while connecting the electrical and control cables.
    While that installation was in progress, the two Chroma 5 lasers were being tested and aligned for the stereoscopic 3D projections. The 27 X 14 meter polarisation preserving silvered screen on the Opera House and the 27 X 12 meter silvered polarisation preserving screen on the Royal Palace had been installed in the afternoon. The 3D projections were tested as was the control of the main beam system which was functioning under local control.

Mark, Olle and Adela mount the 'basket' laser in position
Mark, Olle and Adela mount the 'basket' laser in position

     Once the rigging was completed, it was time for a trial run with the 'basket' system. At the climax of the show, a woman dressed in white is revealed suspended over the water and surrounded by laser beams. The local person who had been hired for this role was secured with a safety harness and sent out over the water. After one trip, she decided it was too cold and scary and quit leaving Jan with the task of finding a replacement and rehearsing her with less that 24 hours to show time!
    There were some problems with the time code cables linking the beam projection site and the Pani projection site which prevented the whole system from working correctly. By now it was 04:00 in the morning and the day was dawning preventing any further work with the lasers. Stockholm is so far north that the sky does not get dark until 22:45 at night and it begins to lighten around 03:00 in the morning giving one a very narrow window of darkness for laser work.
    Many hours of hard work for the crew all day today. Boats had to be used to get supplies and equipment into position, each component and system was tested and checked and anything that could be exposed to the weather had to be tarped in case of more rain. So off we went to bed for a short sleep since we had less than 24 hours to the first show and still a lot of work to accomplish.


Next Day - Friday August 6 >
Day 1 - Tuesday August 3 - Set-up day 1 Day 8 - Tuesday August 10 - Show Day 5
Day 2 - Wednesday August 4 - Set-up day 2 Day 9- Wednesday August 11- Show day 6
Day 3 - Thursday August 5 - Set-up day 3 Day 10- Thursday August 12 - Show day 7
Day 4 - Friday August 6 - Show day 1 Day 11- Friday August 13 - Show day 8
Day 5 - Saturday August 7 - Show day 2 Day 12 - Saturday August 14 - Show day 9
Day 6 - Sunday August 8 - Show day 3 Day 13 - Sunday August 15
Day 7 - Monday August 9 - Show day 4  

Quick Links to Report Pages

Stockholm Water Festival Report - Introduction
Sweden and Stockholm - Background and general information
The Site - Orientation to the show area and the challenges it presented
The Crew - The people who put it all together
Tech Specs - The equipment used in the presentation
The Music - An interview with the composer and MP3 file of the soundtrack
Smoke on the water - Covering a lake with smoke for beam effects
The Show - A description with many pictures
Animated Gifs - Gifs showing Palace projections and climatic beam effects
Stadshuset - Stockholm City Hall tour (very large page)
Show Diary - Day-to-day coverage of the trials and triumphs


DISCLAIMER: Some of the information in the Backstage area is provided by the persons or companies named on the relevant page(s). Laser F/X does NOT endorse or recommend any products/services and is NOT responsible for the technical accuracy of the information provided.  We provide this information as a service to laserists using the Backstage area. 

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