Business as unusual3 January 2012
Unusual Rigging installed advanced over stage flying systems and chain hoists in the €43m Convention Centre Dublin to make it capable of showing any kind of production.
The Convention Centre Dublin, or CCD, on the east of Dublin overlooking the River Liffey, opened with its flying hoist systems in September 2010. Its design has earned several awards this year, including Best Overseas Convention Centre and Best Large Event Venue. It contains a 2,000- seat auditorium, exhibition halls, and 22 purpose-built meeting rooms.
Unusual Rigging’s project manager, Mark Priestley, said: “It is, without doubt, the most sophisticated convention centre I think I’ve ever been in. Every finish is top specification and every room in the venue features the latest in communications and entertainment technology.”
Theatre Projects contracted Unusual Rigging with an ambitious project involving installing lifting systems in the main auditorium and in the exhibition hall. It initially called for power flying in the main auditorium, however, this was ruled out in favour of a more economical counterweight system.
Unusual Rigging set up 54 counterweight-operated flying sets in the auditorium on a traveler grid bearing loads of 2.5kN/sq m. The grid can hold 14 motors and hemp lines to allow flying of heavy lighting bars.
The flying sets were divided into two types: 47 single purchase with a maximum weight of 500kN and three double purchase bars with a maximum weight 500kN.
The firm used twin chain hoists to raise and lower the front of house loudspeakers. Preistly says: “The speaker cluster hoists comprise twin chain hoists, i.e. one motor running two chains with a bar separating the two drum points. This provides complete synchronisation of two drops, an ideal solution for this particular application where speaker clusters have to be at exactly the same height. It’s much more cost effective than trying to do it with wire-rope winches and a control system.”
Flying systems were also installed in the two exhibition halls. Crossing the ceiling of each hall is a grid composed of square trusses.
All of the black powder coated trusses, variation Prolyte S52, and 190 blackpowder- coated S52 trussing box corners, were controlled by 132 Liftket chain hoists. The trusses can be controlled from a single point, Priestley says. “Each truss can be set at any height and any angle desired and each has a central sail that can be used to define the ceiling height or as a bounce and diffuser surface for lighting.”
The system was controlled using a Kinesys Pulse handheld controller. Priestley says: “Even if you load the trusses unequally, the positional system ensures the truss goes up and levels off automatically. What’s also really great for the CCD is that one person can connect with all the motors simply by using the Kinesys Pulse handheld controller. From here they can programme cues and playback. It can either be used as a standalone unit or as a remote terminal for a bigger system.”
A pendant control offers technicians an touch screen interface with programmable hard keys for the most commonly performed tasks. Priestley says: “If you want the ceiling height to be at 6m you just punch it into the control pad and away you go. You can punch a graphical representation of a truss in plan and then set a height in metres for each one and then press ‘go’.”
Getting the right safety curtain proved to be a challenge as the stage proscenium had a width of 22m, so unusual rigging built a fire curtain. “While it can be controlled from the stage, it is also linked to the second knock of the fire alarm. As soon as that happens the safety curtain drops in within 35 seconds.”
Lee Forde, technical director of the venue, helped define the system’s impresive production capabilities: “I was determined to ensure that the CCD was a centre I would have been proud and impressed to visit when I was a production manager. Having had the opportunity to work across the globe and in a number of convention centres I was able to apply my experience and knowledge to the specification of this building.
“Using their vast knowledge and experience Unusual has helped create fit for purpose flying systems in all three main rooms and efficient stage engineering in the auditorium; it was extremely well planned and thought out.”