Brilliant Stages was approached by Stufish Entertainment Architects and 45 DEGREES to produce a stage set for Helene Fischer Live 2017/2018. The goal was to bring a world-class creative show to the audience.

In Germany, Fischer is a very popular name and is seen to be at the very top in the world of German Pop. She is known for her extravagant spectacles when it comes to touring stage shows.

The designers approached us with a stage set design which was extremely ambitious and very much out of the ordinary. They wanted several pieces of elevation and a novel way of the artist traveling to the b-stage. Stufish took these ideas to 45 DEGREES who in turn chose the ones they favoured. This led to the various looks which were created and ultimately led to the stage set that we produced.

Throughout the design process, even before we sent it out to tender, Brilliant Stages was always in the back of my mind as I knew what they were capable of mechanically. One of the main reasons we were keen to bring Brilliant Stages into the project was because we knew they would be able to build a custom stage rather than work with a stock product.
Ric Lipson – Stufish Entertainment Architects
The Main Stage and Clock Arm
The Main Stage and Clock Arm

The Clock Arm


The show designers required two uniquely curved catwalks within the set. The first was a static structure surrounding the VIP standing area in front of the stage, which the singer utilised at several points throughout the show.

The second catwalk was enormous and ran with the show designers’ concept of ‘time’. The singer performed on it as it rotated out into the audience and transported Helene from the main stage to the b-stage.

In total, the structure was 17m long and weighed nearly 7 tons. The catwalk was on a 4m octagonal base which acted as the centre point for rotation. Before the structure started its rotational cycle, it had to be lifted 3m above the audience. We had to ensure the shorter end of the clock arm could counter weigh the heavy, longer end. This resulted in having 1,000kg of steel ballast.

As well as ensuring the structure was balanced, we had to make sure the rotation of the catwalk was very smooth. These were all problems that we had to overcome as the project unfolded and meant that small changes were constantly being made to the original proposition.

It took the catwalk 3 minutes in total to complete a whole 360° rotational cycle. We made sure that as Helene was performing the catwalk could not move too quickly. We also put in place several measures to prevent the structure from suddenly stopping to prevent potentially knocking Helene off. These included a battery controlled backup system to keep the system rotating even if the venue’s power went out. This would allow the catwalk to decelerate to a stop.

As with all shows, the safety of performers and audience is always very important. We incorporated handrails through the set which subsequently had to be removed as Helene saw them as impeding her performance. During her performances, she didn’t want to be hindered by a barrier or a harness.

The Clock Arm
The Clock Arm

Stage lifts

The show featured 4 automated stage lifts which we provided (2 band lifts, a 3x3m central prop lift and a 5x4m downstage central lift with a small pedestal lift inside it). Each of the lifts were used to reveal the performers in different positions and were controlled by an operator who stood right by the system, giving them full line of site at all times and keeping everything safe.

The central lift was the most complex as it had to ascend above the stage as well as descend to become a trap door to load props onto it. In the centre of the lift, there was a water catchment pool, which was utilised during Helene’s water dress gag. The dress itself was brought in by 45 DEGREES and it let out over 100 gallons of water per minute so Brilliant had to account for additional weight and stability. It also became quickly apparent that we would have to add a small hydraulic personnel lift to raise Helene an extra metre for the water dress.

The Performers Wall

The designers also required an 8m tall by 4.5m wide ‘performers wall’, a tall rolling structure made up of 9 cells in which dancers performed and did acrobatic tricks. The whole structure was produced in Brilliant’s workshops from welded aluminium. It was an ambitious piece of stage scenery.

The dancers in each of the 9 cells wore lunge belts so they could hang out the front of the structure. With 9 people shaking the wall, we needed to make sure that the structure was 100% secure so we used heavy duty forklift bearings attached to the large track built into the stage that enabled the wall to track from upstage to downstage. These were incredibly powerful bearings which could withstand the force from all the dancers and helped improve the delivery of the show.

The Performers Wall
The Performers Wall

Trackable Video Screen

The organisers also required Brilliant to produce a trackable video screen that moved up stage. We made it so that it had the ability to open 5m to allow both the ‘performer wall’ and a giant sphere prop to be seen, therefore meeting the designer’s requirements and improving the overall customer experience. The fascia of the screen was a custom piece of gear that had to be adaptable for lower and smaller arenas.

The B-Stage

The final element that was required was the b-stage.

Brilliant Stages was initially briefed on enabling the singer to be lifted vertically from the floor all the way to grid level. The production then later became keen on incorporating a video element to this part of the show. We came up with the idea of having a Venetian projection curtain that would create a cylinder around the stage. As the singer was lifted in the air, all automation was tracked via a d3 Technologies media server to achieve a consistent clean video projection.

One key aspect that had to be considered throughout the manufacturing and production process was that this stage set had to be transported to different venues. Every aspect was designed and produced to make it as ‘tourable’ as possible.

 

The Main Stage
The Main Stage