It took an extraordinary event to communicate the values of the BMW 3-Series brand at the launch of the new E90 in South Africa on 7 May 2005.
It came to Peter Blond, creative director of O'MAGE production company, during the briefing by Mark Ries, the manager of events and promotions for BMW. "At one stage I had to hold myself back as I was ready to leap up and scream 'I've got it!'" recalls Peter.
"Faster. Higher. Stronger." The Olympic Creed. And the performance to make it work. "It was perfect," says Mark Ries. "The 3-Series has dominated the category it created 30 years ago. So it's not about being better than the other guy - it's about being better than yourself."
The question remained, how to portray the "Faster. Better. Stronger." theme in a dynamic and exciting show. The answer - Cirque du Soleil. An icon in its own field, the internationally acclaimed circus group epitomises the commitment and spirit of achievement that embodies the BMW 3-series brand.Faster Higher Stronger
An extraordinary concept requires state of the art technical capabilities to make it a reality. Gearhouse, southern Africa's largest equipment supplier, was commissioned to provide the full technical package for the event, apart from the set. "Gearhouse was the only one that could do it," says Joe Shearer, the managing director of O'MAGE. "They're a trusted supplier of O'MAGE and were able to provide everything we needed for a show of this size. They're also the only supplier that has the experience to put together a show of such technical complexity."
2 500 invited guests crossed the glittering Skywalk Bridge to enter the "athletic arena" and experience a rare display of physical prowess. Bathed in the colour-washed BMW blue, the venue was revealed by the lifting of a gauze screen. The tables, surrounded by a track, were set out around a circular stage with gigantic screens on either side. Gearhouse bought 6, 24 x 18ft rear projection screens especially for the event. "Our Folsom Pro Plus System, one of only three Folsom systems in the country, made transitions between the screens look effortless," comments Jimmy Kgodumo, Senior AV Technician for Gearhouse.
The Cirque de Soleil exhilarated the audience with three breath-taking acts that visually demonstrated the elements of the Olympic Creed: Faster - A trio of female gymnasts performed an dazzling "ballet" on large rings, suspended and spinning above the stage. Higher - A lithe, exquisitely feminine athlete performed improbable contortions while suspended high above the audience's heads on two long pieces of red silk. Stronger - A humanly impossible display of agility and control by a young male athlete in a routine of handstands, splits and one-handed body spins.
Cirque de Soleil's avant-garde approach to live performance, and their ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, has dazzled audiences worldwide since 1984. At the centre of their creative energy are highly gifted individuals, who possess a burning passion to challenge their own limits - a desire to surpass themselves and their overflowing imaginations. Technical Wizardry
The sound, lighting, structural and audiovisual elements all integrated seamlessly. "For the Cirque act, we created a pyramid trapeze structure suspended from 14 of the 140 rigging points," explains Pieter Joubert, the project manager for Gearhouse. "Although it looked like a solid steel structure, it was made entirely from steel wire rope, tensioned to facilitate a winch at the top of the pyramid, and three hoops at the bottom."
"The complex nature of the rigging system in the roof necessitated slightly compromised sound positions. Jaco de Witt, with the help of the Smart system managed a perfect alignment of the combination of stacked and flown arrays of L' Acoustic dV-Dosc speakers," explains Pieter.
The unforgettable display of passion and artistry culminated in the magnificent reveal of the new 3-Series from underneath a silk "dome" on the stage. "The 'silk' dome 7m in diameter housed 4 projectors, directing images onto the dome's exterior," explains Pieter. Suddenly the vehicles came from out of nowhere, in a seemingly endless procession - up and down ramps and around the track.
It was one of the biggest rigging events in the history of the Dome in Johannesburg. "We had sat with O'MAGE, BMW and the Cirque in Canada, but nothing came together until we moved into the Dome," says Pieter. "The Cirque riggers had never seen the venue. The local artists had not rehearsed with the Cirque. None of the technical crew had come together until the three day load-in. But it all worked perfectly, and it was thanks to O'MAGE that it came together in such a beautiful way."