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28 Oct 2007 |

Fineline Automates Crane for Darren Hayes Tour |19/10/2007

Bristol-based fabrication specialists Fineline designed and built a customised automation control system for the spectacular scenic crane that featured prominently on Darren Hayes’ recent UK tour.

   The crane, originated by Hayes’ show director/designer Willie Williams, is based on a real origami bird made by Hayes and was a major set centrepiece of the performance. It was built by Total Fabrications, who asked Fineline on board to deal with automating its five moving parts the head, beak, tail and two wings.

   The crane was cleverly disguised as part of the projection screen until the final quarter of the show when it was dramatically revealed unfolding origami style to its full measurements of 6.8 metres high and 8.2 metres wide with the wings open.

   Fineline’s Dave Harris worked closely with Total’s Mervyn Thomas on the project. Charlie Kail was brought on board by Williams as consultant and to oversee the project.

   Williams created an initial model of the set from which the concept was developed. The crane’s highly symbolic presence refers to the album title ‘This Delicate Thing We’ve Made’ and is also a metaphor for relationships. The crane image appears throughout the show in different guises and forms firstly as photography and then as a laser projected image … before the full size crane finally unfolds - with Hayes aboard.

   The idea was to make the automation as simple and clean as possible and although both hydraulic and computer controlled options were discussed, they chose a more straightforward approach.

   The piece is constructed from a skeletal frame made of box-sectioned aluminium. Fineline utilised four electric lead screw actuators the motor driven equivalent of a hydraulic ram each capable of moving 600kg. These were attached between the base unit and each of the moving elements. The automation system was designed using 110 Volt kit to keep the voltage factor as low as possible, with the mains and the transformer isolated to reduce potential mains interference.

   The four actuators took care of the two wings, tail and head movement, manually operated by a standard motor pickle, while the beak was operated via a fixed steel wire rope catenary arrangement.

   Dave Harris comments: “It was an interesting and challenging project to work on, which required some great teamwork between us, Total Fabrications and Charlie Kail to realise Willie’s idea. The results were stunning.”

   The UK section of the tour was production managed by Andy Gibbs. The crane will also be centre stage on Hayes’ Australian tour taking place later in October.

28 Oct 2007 | comments:0 | < back
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