WIcreations spectaculars for Solidarity Games
Friday, 23 June 2017
wicreationsThe fourth Islamic Solidarity Games, a multi-national, multi-sport event staged, were staged in Baku, Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan - Entertainment engineering specialist WIcreations specified and fabricated two large and spectacular set pieces – a water fountain and a Tree of Life - for the opening and closing ceremonies of the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games, a multi-national, multi-sport event staged in Baku, Azerbaijan from 12 to 22 May 2017.
WI’s team, project managed by Yves Vervloet, was working for Betty Productions Ltd. who co-ordinated all the creative and technical production elements for the ceremonies on behalf of the Islamic Games Operations Committee.
The ceremonies both took place in the 70,000 seater Baku National Stadium, a venue already familiar to the WI team after their work there for the 2015 European Games.
The water vessel and the tree – integral parts of production designer Thanassis Demiris’s visual treatment for the two ceremonies - were realised and constructed at WI’s HQ in Heist-op-den-Berg, Belgium over a two-month period. Approximately 60 tonnes of kit was road-freighted to Baku on five trucks.
The Games were officially opened by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev amidst an array of dancers, musicians, fireworks, horses, camels and donkeys. The teams of the 2800 athletes were led onto the field-of-play by women carrying water collected from around Azerbaijan … which was poured into the water fountain’s massive bowl.
Weight calculations were crucial, as the loading data for the stage perimeter at the point where the bowl was located was 17 tonnes, so the piece - complete with water - could not exceed that.
The base was constructed from a 200mm high rigid steel frame with custom steel-flanged castors which alone weighed 1.7 tonnes. It was designed to take 15 tonnes of water in tanks below and still be manually movable (into the final stage position) via a pair of 30 metre steel track beams that were integral to the stage structure.
The tracks were built to WI’s spec by Stage One Technologies – who constructed and delivered the stage.
Sitting on top of the steel frame base was a 4mm aluminium centre section housing all the pumps, pipes and connections. This was covered with a removable aluminium hatch to conceal all the technical apparatus.
The bottom of the bowl itself was made up of 16 x 3D cut Styrofoam segments reinforced with an aluminium framework and were fixed on to the aluminium centrepiece.
WI has built some water effects before – notably for Russian superstar Philipp Kirkorov’s 2016 tour - but nothing on this scale, so for this aspect of the project, WI enlisted water effects specialists, The Crystal Group from Paris.
Sub-stage, a basin was built to hold the 20,000 litres of water and inside this pool, two quick-fill pumps were connected to the vessel via a Camlok system.
Inside the vessel were 24 pumps. Sixteen created the small perimeter sprays of water, one dealt with the central jet effect, eight made the swirl effect … with one empty pump as contingency for backup. All the pumps were DMX controlled via a single channel and programmed and run from a ChamSys console.
For the stunning Closing Ceremony, the stage set was laid out in a grid referencing the geometric designs and precision that are characteristic of Islamic art and found in traditional Azerbaijan carpets. The water bowl was used again – reassembled for a second time and right beside it, centre stage, was an impressive 27m tall Tree of Life.
The crown of the steel tree was 18 metres in diameter and its base measured 12 metres. It involved approximately 2000 bolted connections, weighed a mighty 25 tonnes and needed 22 tonnes of ballast to ensure stability.
The OC and CC were created by Betty Productions Ltd – led by director and executive producer, Catherine Ugwu and artistic director Nathan M. Wright. The production designer was Thanassis Demiris, lighting was designed by Adam Bassett and the visual content director was Richard Lindsay.
Says Yves, “As a company, WIcreations was extremely proud to be part of these two world class events, which united some of the best and most creative international technical talents available. It was a pleasure working with Betty Productions and their great team. We all enjoyed the challenges, the hard work, the brain-teasers and the amazing final results.”
(Jim Evans)

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