Staff on the event: 

Lighting: Robert and Tumisang Sebogo; Audio: Kgashane Malatji; AV: Jimmy Kgodumo; Snr AV: Tyrone Dobbin and on Rigging: Kendall Dixon and Reinier Roberts

SA’s BIGGEST FAMILY FESTIVAL, was back in town for the second edition of NickFest. Gearhouse client Mushroom Productions, with Nickelodeon (DStv channel 305) teamed up with Glen21 Entertainment and Kinder Joy to welcome thousands of kids and families to The TicketPro Dome in Johannesburg on 25th and 26th March for an amazing, fun filled weekend of music and fun, packed with entertainment and various activities to choose from.

The show design included a central multi-layered projection structure simulating a ‘slime tank’ which was the focus point of the event. The ‘Slime Tank Machine” was comprised of 4 x full round screens and 4 x half-moon screens, mobile trussing clad with LED strips and a plethora of circular trussing covered with white stretch fabric from Showtex which was lit from the inside to add character. 

Gearhouse Group handled all the Technical requirements and a few of their team players took a moment to tell us about the experience 

Tyrone Dobbin, the FOH AV Operator from Gearhouse Splitbeam team said that it was an uplifting experience for him “Working on the show made me very happy, especially when I could see the crowd enthusiastically enjoying every moment. There was never a dull moment of interaction between the show and the audience.” Tyrone managed the AV content display for the event making use of a Christie Spyder X20 Video Processor to handle 2 x Watchout Servers’, all projection and LED outputs and a TX Camera feed input on HD/SDI; using the equipment to switch between the main and backup Watchout Servers. The projection screens on the central structure were used to display the ‘workings’ of the slime tank and required a Dataton Watchout Programming Server to handle the layering. “We used the Watchout primarily for its ease of programming, ‘cues on will’ on multiple auxiliary timelines and its easy use of layering” explains Tyrone. “I needed to apply a pre-made “circular bubbles” mask over the content to match the projection surface shape and used the SDI Inputs on our Datapath Input Cards in the Watchout Servers so that I could automate Camera PIPs (Picture-in-Picture)” he offers. “I also created ‘Build’ and ‘Dump’ playback timelines using LED ROE Visual Strips to simulate the tank filling up with slime”. Using programmable cues in a Watchout Aux Timeline he programmed the ‘LED Slime Dump’ to be triggered at the end of an onscreen 10 sec countdown clock under the Camera PIP. 

The Lighting Department’s Robert Grobler, looked after the lighting design, ensuring that the renders by Technical Designer, Tim Dunn, translated through to the actual show. “One of the key elements we had to keep in mind was that, as a children’s show, it had to look ‘funky’ but also be safe for the children at all times. So, from a lighting point of view we used a LED units to give us rich colour everywhere as well a safe working light general ambience. We used 30 Phillips Nitro’s as our house lights system to light up the entire TicketPro Dome and it worked perfectly. Martin Vipers and Robe Pointe’s were also used to deliver great textures and beam work, both on and off stage. I definitely wasn’t used to this type of show, but seeing the kid’s excitement was rewarding on all levels, and I felt like a kid again, wanting to get involved.”

From a rigging standpoint, Kendall Dixon, and his 12-man rigging team faced some challenges as the design concept dictated that all the rigging points were clustered in the very centre of the Dome roof. In a venue like the TicketPro Dome, where rigging is quite complex, this just made the hang a little more tricky than usual. The team hung an additional grid structure below the existing centre mother-grid system (installed when Gearhouse initially became the venue’s preferred supplier) using cross-over bridling to secure the show structure with a weight distribution well within the Venue safety standards. Reinier Roberts, one of rigging team and a true team player was also the volunteer for the test ‘slime dumps’ getting slimed in great spirits.

Senior Sound Engineer “Kash” Kgashane Malatji concurs “We had 6 x 4 hangs of L’Accoustics Kudo, weighing 392Kgs which were secured through a stable rigging installation. Sound-wise, we had to take the noise factor of an audience of boisterous kids into account and allow ourselves extra levels to play with on show day. Thanks to really good team communication throughout, the rehearsals went off without a hitch and when we saw the characters onstage and the excitement from the kids, how could you not smile and be proud?”

Gearhouse Project Manager Lefa Tsiane summed up the team experience….. “When I first heard that I would be working at Nickfest as a Technical Project Manager with Production Company, Mushroom Production, I was very excited as I had not yet had the opportunity to work on a big event with them. At the same time Nickfest’s technical design was done by Gearhouse’s Tim Dunn - always an honour to work with someone with so much experience – and knowing we had more than capable crew on this event allowed me some breathing space.

“I only got involved in this project two weeks before the opening, when the Gearhouse team came together to come up with a strategic methodology to lift and suspend the ‘Slime Machine’. This project took over 90hrs to build amongst 60 crew members, so it was an epic achievement.. On this event, all hands were on deck; team effort and skill came into play and the job went off very successfully. It’s on events like this - where all parties put their expertise and minds together - that we can create and accomplish a complete solution for the organizers/promoters. From hard work and perseverance come positive results and happy clients.”

Story by Liza Hooper, Photos Robyn D’Alessandro

May 3, 2017

The Gearhouse Group of Companies