Rigging Focus: Acass-Systems Keeps The Killers’ Tour Wonderful…and Safe

by Nook Schoenfeld • in
  • Current Issue
  • Designer Insights
  • February 2018
• Created: February 16, 2018

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Flying V framing system with staggered tiles and surround.

As is the case with most large-scale designs, an artist and his production staff will sign off on some great artwork that paints a beautiful picture. Then it’s up to the production manager, with the aid of said designers, to find someone that can make this vision a reality. This often requires some engineering of the serious kind, as life and death can be involved when tons of scenery are moving overhead.

When it came time to deal with the design for The Killers’ Wonderful Wonderful tour, production was faced with three different projects they had to figure out how to erect safely. First of all, there was the Flying V, the triangle shaped piece that flew up and moved into various positions during the show, almost flattening at times. It would need some special 3D bracing to support it as one huge pod. Then there was the isosceles triangle that stood vertical, upstage center. That had to be built with all the video cabinets hanging at a 45° angle. Lastly, they had the side LED walls that tapered in height, designed to look like a hard angle.

Fireplay is the name of Nick Whitehouse’s U.S. based company, now that he has relocated to Los Angeles. “The team at Fireplay reached out to Acass-Systems looking for a production package,” notes Aaron Cass, Acass-Systems CEO. “We have partnered on other productions with Fireplay as well as Real Deal Touring and Big Picture Video,” the Killers’ video vendors. “We all came together and the collaboration worked seamlessly.

“Steven [Douglas, the LD] and the design team knew what they wanted aesthetically,” Cass continues. “Our designers collaborated with them on the design, and then we ultimately manufactured several elements for the tour, especially the magnificent custom flying triangle.”

The pyramid with its 45-degree-angled tiles rises into place in front of the upstage walls.

Cass explains how they can guarantee that his work is safe. “Our team at Acass-Systems designed the video frames and structure to handle multiple loading scenarios. Structural engineering was conducted both in-house and by a third-party engineering firm to be absolutely certain that everything is safe to use. I was a roadie, so our finished product is always designed with the safety of the stage technician in mind. Our gear is designed by roadies, for roadies.”

Specially cut video elements would cost more to make than what any person in their right mind would spend. To give the illusion that all of these strange edges were custom-made, the video crew hangs a certain amount of tiles, configuring them in staggered scenarios. They then attach custom surrounds (think picture frames) around the edges that mask any extra pixels you do not wish to see. “Acass-Systems designed, engineered, and built the fascia that surrounds the video elements, providing those unique shapes,” notes Jeremiah Anderson, Acass-Systems’ project manager.

The Flying V was made up of frames that, once connected, turned the back part of the video wall into a giant truss pod. Inverted motors were hung in the grid and strategically fastened in dedicated places so the fixture could move without fear of coming apart, should there be any kind of fault with a motor not taking weight.

The Upstage Pyramid was built far more simply than one would think. Each lightweight frame held four Big Picture video cabinets. These cabinets traveled in carts and were easily placed into some small custom dollies that placed the product at the perfect 45° angle. The carts were wheeled into place, attached into the open spaces on the wall, and it was fairly simple to erect.

The pyramid’s perimeter is lined with moving light battens. Acass-Systems figured out how to hang these fixtures, end to end. The side and rear video walls were all built straight forward, again with custom molding attached on certain sides, to give the illusion of a forced perspective as they gain in height moving downstage.

The 45-degree angled tiles ride in custom carts

About Acass-Systems

While many readers may know Aaron Cass for his experience touring with The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Britney Spears, they may not be aware that Aaron left the road and started his own company known as Acass-Systems, which is based in Omaha, NE.

“Over the course of my touring career, I searched for ways to create better, more effective, touring solutions. I started my own business because I knew that we could make better products than what was being offered.

“Each and every collaborator receives a user-friendly solution that ultimately transforms their creative vision into reality,” Cass continues. “We have partnered with some of the top tours. Our next goal is to connect with more designers so that they know we are an advocate for their vision in the production, engineering and manufacturing phase.

“Our ultimate mission is to serve the artists and designers by providing them creative flexibility,” Cass adds. “A designer should never have to compromise their vision and when it is realized, the crew should also trust that it will be user-friendly, road worthy and thoughtfully designed.”

Attaching the GLP X4 Bar 20’s to the wall

More info at www.acass-systems.com

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