Vertigo Rigging pulled off the daunting task of flying five giant LED video screens in heavy winds and rain, high up on the famous façade of the Odeon, Leicester Square as part of the star-studded BAFTA Film Awards gala night.
In addition to the screens, Vertigo rigged a number of temporary structures to accommodate the gathered media and their equipment in Leicester Square.
Designer/producer Lucy Smail of production company West Design and Production was contracted by BAFTA (the British Academy of Film and Television Arts) to turn the exterior of the Odeon, the red-carpeted scene of many a film premiere, into a high-visibility showcase for the awards night. She and production manager Andy Cheeseman brought in Vertigo to handle the appropriately vertiginous multi-screen installation on behalf of video supplier PSL. Project manager Paddy Burnside was in charge of a job that took a team of up to 14 riggers at a time a week to achieve and two days to break down after the stars had gone home.
A total of six tons of LED screen were hung from the cinema front. Of the five screens, the largest–-suspended over a balcony–-weighed in at 3.5 tons, the second largest one ton, and the three smaller 1.5 tons each.
The work started on Sunday, February 12, when a supporting superstructure was lifted by a giant crane provided by Lee Lifting onto the Odeon’s roof. By midweek, the elegant but massively strong superstructure was complete and a 20x16m truss grid hung vertically from it, tied in to the building through steelwork behind the building’s main poster site. The grid’s function was partly aesthetic and partly to spread the wind loading on the huge surface area of the screens, which could not be fixed directly to the front of the building at any point.
Thursday and Friday saw the screens installed by Vertigo’s specialist riggers, brought in by Pod Bluman’s PSL team.
Meanwhile, a second team from Vertigo was at work rigging two large and two small covered media structures in the park in the centre of Leicester Square–-a total of 272 sq.m of structures in all-–to house the massed press, TV, and competition winners, a wise move, as it turned out, given the evening’s heavy rain. The final element was the rigging of truss goalposts for television cable management.
Paddy Burnside comments: “We were done by Friday night, tidied up on Saturday, and took it all down afterwards. The whole thing looked fabulous, despite the weather. Our main technical challenge was supporting that amount of weight from the building, but as we had carried out a similar installation for the Harry Potter premiere, we were able to utilize many of the fittings that had been drilled into the building for that. At the end of the evening, the estimate was that one billion people watched the BAFTAs on 165 television networks world-wide, so we were all pretty pleased that it looked as good as it did.”