The previous Eurovision Song Contest has had a international premiere on the terrain of live visual effects. Most viewers do not realize what goes on behind the scenes of making a great show. For those who are interested, here are some details.
This year's beautiful Eurovision stage was surrounded by large discs showing video images to decorate the entire show. Flashlight's R&D team, headed by its engineering manager Fried Buttstedt and Anne Bokma, developed the system to make it possible. They called it CyberHoist.
With a surprisingly accuracy of 0,1mm each disc (hoist) could be moved at speeds between 0,1mm per second and 20 meters per minute and lift a weight up to 500kg. Every 'hoist' has it's own processor and memory, making them truly intelligent. The hoists are controlled by Flashlight's 3D HoistShowControl software and control hardware, running in Apple Macintosh G4 computers without limitations on the number of hoists that can be controlled. They can even be controlled by other units, such as lightning desks. Communication between the control unit and the hoists runs via UTB (ethernet) and fibre glass cables, eliminating the usual limitations on the rate of data transfer.
Marc van der Wel, sales manager of Flashlight, says: “We developed CyberHoist as the demands for staging more innovative and complex shows were not met by existing motion control systems. Eurovision 2003 is a perfect example of using the power of CyberHoist, where the design calls for the LED screen and lighting objects to move with pinpoint accuracy on the set of a live show. It makes it possible to do events like this in a spectacular way, and it's fast to program because our 3D HSC software lets you 'move' a suspended object on screen rather than having to program individual motor movements. I expect great demand both for events and concerts as well as for long-running theatre applications, based on the response we have had already from producers and video, set and lighting designers.”