Zactrack solution for Kan Yama Kan
Zactrack solution for Kan Yama Kan
Saudi Arabia – The world premiere of the spectacular drama and dance performance “Kan Yama Kan” was staged at the Global Theater in Riyadh’s BLVD RUH City entertainment complex, hosted by an award-winning West End and Broadway creative team, with a lighting designed by Natasha Chivers, direction and choreography by Will Tuckett and auditorium, set design and video design by 59 Productions, which was also technical coordinator for producers, Wonderjunkie and Anthology.
With a large cast, vibrant cross-stage design, fast-moving dancers, dynamic stage elements and aerial performers, as well as multiple rolling gauzes to enhance projections and other visual effects, Natasha, in conjunction with associate LD Andy Purves, needed to track 15 lead, dancer and aerial actors throughout the performance space using multiple light sources positioned all over the aerial beams, often simultaneously!
As a solution to this puzzle, they specified two zactrack PRO servers that operated with 14 anchors and 27 active trackers (with full redundancy) in conjunction with 170 moving fixtures.
Zactrack uses innovative real-time radio tracking technology (Ultra-Wide-Band) to make this demanding task smooth and flexible.
Due to the layout of the stage, the cast had to be lit from all angles – on the XY and Z axes – across the entire stage and into the two entrances at either end of the crosshead. To do this, in order for the audience at nearly 360 degrees to get the best experience, three or four light sources had to be applied diligently, also avoiding washing all floor surfaces used as dynamic projection surfaces, so the follow-up was designed into the show from the start. .
The challenge then was to find the right tracking system for this high-level production.
“We considered several options,” Andy explained. “With the architecture and design of the show, zactrack with its vertical Z axis was the only viable way to get the precise results that everyone wanted,” he confirmed, and they needed a system based on radio and sensors that wouldn’t be confused by the show’s action-packed techniques.
zactrack PRO uses a mathematical prediction model to manage system and device latency and ensures accurate and flawless tracking of actors, athletes, show cars or other fast moving objects on and above a stage – in this case also flying aerial artists.
Another consideration was the ease of use of the system. “Supporting a large multi-source tracking system is a challenge and a substantial amount of additional technology for a production’s lighting department,” noted Andy, pointing out that additional elements – like the calibration process and programmer time during technical rehearsals – must be factored into the equation when evaluating tracking system options.
The brand new zactrack PRO system used for the show was purchased from zactrack International GmbH by Saudi production partners, SELA. For the month-long production rehearsal and technical period at LH2 studios in North West London, a system was hired from Neg Earth.
Zactrack’s UK distributor Ambersphere has also been “incredibly helpful” in helping the project, Andy reveals. They had originally set up a demo so he and UK-based Natasha could fully understand how it worked and make sure it would be stable, reliable and the right choice for this scenario.
As part of the process, Ambersphere connected them with others, including people from Neg Earth who had recently used zactrack products, and hearing these first-hand experiences from industry peers provided “excellent ” and valuable feedback to help them make their final decision. .
It included advice on which fixtures make the best tracking lights, which are ideally compact, lightweight, responsive and therefore able to move quickly and seamlessly. “Ambersphere stepped in, arranging several crucial test sessions,” Andy says.
During rehearsals, time was also spent discovering the optimal positions for attaching tracking tags to costumes and performers, which is also crucial for getting the best performances.
In London, the rehearsal zactrack system was used with Robe LEDBeam 150 mobile projectors, and in Riyadh these were replaced by 80 Claypaky Mini-Bs and 70 Ayrton Diablos which were installed in the roof trusses and supplied by the local lighting supplier, SLS.
Performers could be picked up anywhere on the stage and tracked in real time, ensuring they were always beautifully lit with no unwanted light spillage anywhere.
During installation, zactrack’s alignment algorithm calibrates the lights in 3D space without any prior knowledge of the geometry of the scene, so that on location, the zactrack PRO “alignment puck” can be placed on the stage and the software does the rest of the calculations.
The show’s zactrack motion controls were integrated into the corresponding lighting cues programmed by Marc Polimeni on an ETC EOS Ti console. He worked alongside Natasha as she developed the lighting scenes, look and overall aesthetic while Andy focused on the following scouting details, and who needed to be picked up by which lights, where and when in the show.
Production lighting manager was Corey Bennett, and tracker Charlie Rayner tech’d and handled all aspects of the zactrack system, including the 27 trackers (some artists carried more than one) on a day-to-day basis, in a mode slightly similar to an audio radio microphone technology. He was impressed with the battery life of the trackers as there were long workdays involved.
The time spent at LH2 allowed the lighting team to fine-tune the tracking and be prepared and ready to arrive on site in Riyadh and transition to the purchased system. “It was a very collaborative and enjoyable way to work,” Andy commented, “using this kit has allowed us to achieve results that simply wouldn’t have been possible otherwise!”
Kan Yama Kan – producer Zeina Ashour’s vision – was a huge hit. Blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, the epic show reinterpreted some key tales from Arabian Nights into a unique, fast-paced and energizing narrative. The production managers were Gary Beestone and Andy Reader from GBA.
photos: Johan Persson