Summit Steel was the production rigger for the opening ceremony that launched HCA2005–the ongoing bicentennial celebration of the birth of Danish storyteller and poet, Hans Christian Andersen, author of popular children’s fairy tales such as "The Emperor’s New Clothes" and "The Ugly Duckling."
The two hour "Once Upon A Time" event was staged live in front of 35,000 people at Copenhagen’s massive Parken Stadium and starred a cast of over 300 international artists and celebrities. Guests included the Danish Royal Family, government representatives, and a host of VIPs.
The production brief was to transform the sports stadium into an enchanting fairytale universe. Equipment was supplied by several leading UK companies including Summit Steel, Britannia Row (sound), and PRG (Lighting). The design team included Bill Laslett (set), lighting director Al Gurdon, sound designer Derrick Zieba, with Tanya Williams as Initial’s production manager, and Nick Levitt as event production manager.
The Summit team, led by Jon Bray, coordinated the different rigging details needed for lighting, sound, and special effects, working closely with the local riggers led by European Staging’s Mikkel Brogaard. Summit also supplied all the main production rigging services and solutions and much of the equipment to achieve this feat.
The event required the rigging of an extremely large show video screen–measuring a 23.3m wide by 13.4m high, and weighing approximately 45 tonnes. "It was a real monster–metaphorically speaking of course!" says Bray. The screen was the major visual element of the stage and therefore vital to creating and relaying the magic of the show.
Due to its size, the screen had to be hung in two halves–top and bottom–to avoid over-straining the module clips on the LED panels. The top half was built first and then suspended on 13 2-tonne motors. The bottom half was then stacked on the ground, one column at a time, and moved in using a Summit tracking system. When the bottom was complete and in place, the top was then lowered in and the two halves mated. The bottom remained ground supported on a special scaffolding deck.
For maximum safety, the top-half motors were linked to load-cell monitors to ensure that no excessive weight shifted onto the bottom at any time.
Summit supplied a total of 100 motors for video, sound, set, and drapes, including some variable speed Kinesys controlled hoists for moving set pieces. Once onsite, Summit’s crew of six supervised and worked with the local riggers on the full event, dealt with the screen, and also supplied and operated five Performer flying winches for the over-stage acrobats.
"Once Upon A Time" was commissioned by the Danish Broadcasting Company (DR) in conjunction with British production company Initial, and was broadcast live on DR1 and to the rest of Europe via the European Broadcasting Union.