Elvis Presley - still "The King" to millions of fans worldwide - remains
nearly ubiquitous in Las Vegas even today. It's not surprising, as his career
and the city's history are intertwined. One of his biggest film hits was 1964's
Viva Las Vegas. And it was during Presley's Las Vegas "comeback," starting in
1969, that he set the first of several attendance records, eternally connecting
the man and the town. So perhaps it was inevitable that Cirque du Soleil, in
building a Las Vegas legacy of its own, would someday create a show honoring
The King. Viva ELVIS, presented at the Aria hotel at CityCenter, was that
show. (CityCenter is a 16,797,000 sq. ft. complex, which includes the Aria
Resort and Casino, Vdara hotel and condo tower, Harmon Hotel and Spa, Mandarin
Oriental Hotel, Veer Towers condominium, and Crystals retail and entertainment
district.) With a pronounced dance/musical/concert emphasis, the production
would be at home on Broadway. (Its writer/director, Vincent Paterson, has
worked for Broadway, the West End, and Los Angeles Opera.) However, its sheer
size, technical complexity, and visual overload made it right for Las Vegas,
or so everyone thought.
More than just a concert of Elvis’ classics—and yet not intended to be a
biography — the show is a celebration of Elvis’ life, the things he loved, his
history and his larger-than-life image. Of course, the show is built upon Elvis’
music, and the attention to the detail surrounding the music is more intense than
any other Cirque production, including the most recent prior Las Vegas offering:
The Beatles LOVE, Cirque’s homage to the Beatles and their music. A live band of
nine musicians supports four live female singers as well as prerecorded musical
tracks and vintage Elvis vocal recordings. A team of dancers and acrobats brings
to life pieces of Elvis’ past through high-energy dance numbers and gravity-defying
stunts that are synonymous with the Cirque brand. Of course, supporting all these
performers is a host of technology, a team of technicians and an eight-segment
moving LED wall that is the visual centerpiece of the show.
[ Set & Stage •
"Elvis has transcended reality and become a kind of mythic figure. So his final
reappearance in Las Vegas has to be done on a scale and with an opulence that reflect
that status. The line between scenery elements and acrobatic equipment here
is not always clear - and that was a deliberate choice." — Mark Fisher,
With the spirit of The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in mind, and with an understanding
of the importance of how both production and venue are inseparable to the design of
Cirque du Soleil’s permanent venues, a team of Cirque’s frequent collaborators was
assembled. Theater consultants Auerbach Pollock Friedlander (www.auerbachconsultants.com),
the MGM MIRAGE Design Group and architects Pelli Clarke Pelli (www.pcparch.com), Gensler
(www.gensler.com) and HKS, Inc. (www.hksinc.com), were brought to the production team.
Viva Elvis' technical and creative immensity starts with its 1,825-seat theatre:
The overall requirements of the production led to the creation of one of the largest
proscenium stages in North America. Conceived as a large cruciform, similar to major
opera house stages, the performance area is flanked by rear and side stages with full
height lofts and a working cruciform gridiron. The 166,000 square-foot stage was
developed in anticipation of the spectacular scenic designs of Cirque’s Mark Fisher,
and boasts the world's largest single-run, fiber optic, audio transport system. In
addition to the design and specification of the theatrical systems, Auerbach Pollock
Friedlander also facilitated the theatrical contractors’ work throughout the
construction process. Solotech (www.solotech.com), a longtime contractor for Cirque
productions, handled the installation process.
The predominant color of the whole set and theatre is gold in
a reference to the baroque era as well as to Elvis' own identification with gold as
the universal symbol for the wealth of kings, and as a stylized reference to all of
his gold records. The curtain and the stage floor are decorated with golden disks
that recall the 151 Elvis Presley albums, singles and EPs that went gold, platinum
or multi-platinum in the USA. The upholstery pattern on the chairs, the drapes
imprinted with Elvis 45’s — even the wood on the walls — all reference the "Jungle
Room" and other interiors at Graceland, the King’s Memphis, Tenn., castle.
There is a new set for nearly every sequence in the show, each of which details
a different moment in Presley's career, including his breakthrough with "Blue Suede
Shoes," his army career, his marriage to Priscilla Beaulieu, and his emergence as
a Las Vegas icon. Fisher acknowledges the importance of a large scale in his vision.
"I like the kind of extravagance of Elvis' world," he says. "Everything needed to
have this larger-than-life feeling, because he's this larger-than-life figure." Take,
for instance, in...
- BLUE SUEDE SHOES — The opening number is dominated by a giant
jukebox. The chrome and gloss black structure is 70 feet wide and 22 feet high
with dance platforms on two levels. It incorporates a 50-foot tall video screen.
The gigantic Blue Suede Shoe that appears on the stage is 29 feet long, weighs
7,000 lbs and is made of steel and fiberglass.
- GOT A LOT OF LIVIN' — Seven integrated trampolines allow acrobats
in colorful tights to defy gravity, leaping tall buildings in a single bound. The
whole structure was inspired by Elvis' love of superheroes and amusement parks, which
he would visit with his friends after hours. The structure weighs some 30 tons and
takes up the full 78-foot width of the stage, is 23 feet deep and 32 feet tall. The
team established every distance between the trampolines, and the angle of the wall,
and the distance between the objects, to make it possible for the artists to move
from one wall to the other; the angle of the wall [is such that] they can walk on
it. In order to maximize the surface area of each trampoline, a latex fabric was
used, avoiding the traditional spring-supported mechanism.
- JAILHOUSE ROCK — The challenge for Mark Fisher was to come up with
a set for "Jailhouse Rock" that would reference the iconic set used in the film, but
at the same time be original and fresh. He based his new design on the technical
requirements for a circus art called "marche inversée." The structure incorporates
ten tracks for acrobats to walk upside down, attached by their feet, while dancers
perform right side up on other levels. The 82,000- pound set is 60 feet wide, 45
feet deep and almost 40 feet tall. Up to 36 artists appear on it at the same time.
The set also has 462 wheels, and it rolls onstage at 1-foot per second using a laser
- WESTERN SEQUENCE — The giant lasso used in the Western sequence is
40 feet long, and three giant "cowboys" representing Elvis complete the decor. They
are made of fiberglass and measure 35, 31 and 17 feet high.
- RETURN TO SENDER — A huge 15,000-pound structure that consists of
five fixed bars and two sets of parallel bars on three levels, does not so much
dominate the stage as blend with Mark Fisher's overall design for the "Return to
Sender" sequence, which represents Elvis's army training. The American flag used
here is made of genuine long underwear and boxer shorts, and has only 48 stars
because Elvis entered the service in 1958, the year before Alaska and Hawaii were
admitted to the Union.
- VIVA LAS VEGAS — Used in the last few songs in the show, this set
captures the glamour of Las Vegas with a huge ceremonial staircase as its central
feature. Pavilions on the sides house the musicians, and decks above the pavilions
serve as stages for the dancers, jugglers and other circus artists. To complete the
glamour and provide the show with a climax, there are two beautiful gold-leaf
sculptures of Elvis in iconic poses from the peak of his popularity in Vegas.
"We made a show that comes at you fast," Fisher adds. "There's a lot of scenery
Basically, the stage is laid out so that the sides and rear are fixed
areas, while the center is composed of 17 stage lifts. The two widest stage lifts
measure 18-feet by 80-feet, each with a lifting capacity of 65,000lbs and a
165,000lb sustained capacity; each are raised by four motors located 30' below the
stage. A lift at stage center is 18-feet by 20-feet, with a lifting capacity of
35,000lbs and 104,000lbs sustained capacity. A total of 12 ‘POD' lifts are 8-feet
by 10-feet each. Eight of them ride on one of the larger 18-feet by 80-feet lifts
and can travel 10-feet above stage level; four others downstage travel 6-feet
above stage level. All the lifts run at 1-foot per second, with the exception of
the 18-feet by 20-feet unit, which runs at 2-feet per second. There's also two
8-feet x 8-feet star lifts placed all the way downstage; and three SLOATS, or
sliding lids over automated traps; one is 18-feet by 30-feet, with a speed of 3-feet
per second, and two, covering the star traps, which are 8-feet x 8-feet, split down
the center, which run at 1-foot per second.
If Elvis, the performer, was as muchmabout “moving and shaking” as the music itself,
similarly, mounting a production to represent his spirit would be about music and
movement of great scale, rhythm and beat. Bringing the physical spirit and energy of
Elvis to Cirque’s audiences required extensive staging flexibility, realized in an
array of stage lifts, performer lifts and mechanized sliding platforms that reveal
the lifts when retracted. Aerial acrobatics rigging, conceived by Cirque Acrobatic
Rigging Designer Guy St. Amour, was facilitated by an overhead track and trolley
system using multiple performer winches that travel horizontally and vertically at
high speed to enable a dynamic aerial ballet. All motorized overhead rigging and
stage machinery is controlled by an integrated automation system by Stage Technologies
(www.stagetech.com), safely enabling three-dimensionally choreographed acrobatic and
A number of scenic houses contributed to the show. F&D Scene Changes, of Calgary,
Canada created the first giant blue suede shoe and an enormous wedding cake, among
other pieces. Show FX, of Los Angeles, built the Las Vegas set for the finale and
the opening jukebox set. Stageline, of Montreal, a company generally devoted to
making mobile stages for the concert touring market, built the "Jailhouse Rock" set.
Jacqueline Pyle contributed her sculpting services on such pieces as the Elvis busts.
Aciers Trans-Rol provided the trampolines. Additional pieces were provided by Acme,
Matamo, Darcor Casters Ltd., Sablage 2000, Creative Technologies, Magnet Shultz,
Just for Show, and Blue Line Studios. Softgoods were provided by Rose Brand and
Dazian. Rigging gear suppliers included JR Clancy, Setpoint Design, AMC Fabrication,
Silver State Wire Rope and Rigging, and Falltech.
In addition to providing the main and house curtain trusses, Tomcat supplied a
40-foot by 30-foot scrim frame, fabricated out of 2-inch steel cord, with the top
and bottom chords curved to the match the proscenium. The side chords are made of
aluminum box tube with screw adjustments on both sides, allowing the frame height
to be adjusted. The company also supplied medium- and light-duty truss, powder-coated
in gold, to match the rest of the set, along with hoists and cable.)
Stage Technologies provided the scenic automation. There are over 225 axes of
movement in the show, all controlled by four Nomad portable control desks. Major
components of the automation system include custom-built tracks and trolleys, hoists
with SIL3 positioning technology, eight motorized LED panels with anti-sway
technology, and radio-controlled scenic stage trucks that follow micro-accurate
laser guidance, making continuous correction during motion possible. Stage
Technologies also automated the set for "Got A Lot of Livin' to Do" with a
four-friction drive system and "Jailhouse Rock" with a six-friction drive system,
moving 57,000lbs and 90,000lbs respectively. Stage lifts were provided by Show
Canada, of Quebec, and Lee Mechanical Contractors, of Park Hills, Missouri.
Stage Technologies' eChameleon automation software made its debut on the show;
a new feature, which allows the live recording of joystick motion, was especially
useful for the automation programmers.
Despite the physical challenges of the sets, Fisher says biggest challenge was
fiscal: "It's always the budget. You never have enough money to do what everyone
wants to do. People always have bigger ideas than the money that's available. It's
always a huge struggle between the budget and the ambition. But we got the balance
"Cirque didn't want to recreate anything they have done before. They
wanted to create something new and special for Elvis and for Las Vegas, drawing
on the energy of Elvis's live shows performed here." — Jonathan Deans,
Deans realized early on that Viva Elvis should have a rock-concert vibe. "It is
definitely a concert," he says. "The musicians are onstage; they perform with their
guitars. It's different from other Cirque shows, where you see them in a corner or
upstage. They can be on the edge of the stage, with film clips of Elvis behind or
above them, and they are rocking out."
The show demands artful blending of disparate audio elements: an eight-piece
on-stage band, four female singers, the voice of Elvis, and dynamic sound effects.
Because of this intense emphasis on the music, Deans says, "We have a very large
sound system, although you don't see it, because it's all behind the drapes and
curtains." To support the mix with full impact, sound designer Jonathan Deans
engaged a total of 279 self-powered Meyer Sound loudspeakers and the largest
all-digital Matrix3 audio show control and CueConsole modular control surface
system ever assembled. To fill the house with sound from all directions, Deans
started with a main system of 48 MICA line array loudspeakers set in four arrays
of 12 loudspeakers each.
The gear was supplied by Meyer Sound, because, he adds, "the voicing of their
speakers are all very similar. It's easy to move sound from one unit to the other,
even though it's a different model. I'm always flying sound around and moving it.
We use MICAs [the company's compact curvilinear unit] for line arrays along the
front, with 700-HP subwoofers beneath them. We have a split center cluster for
left-right [distribution], because the proscenium is so wide. We need to be able
to pull focus if we need it, because, in a large auditorium, the audience needs
some reference to direct them, besides the lighting." The main left, right, center
left, and center right arrays consist of four hangs of 12 MICAs each, with eight
700-HP subs at right and left, and eight M3D subs at the center. A set of bunker
subs, located beneath the concrete, consists of Danley Sound TH-115TJ units. Front
fill is supplied by nine Meyer M1-SMs, with side front fill provided by two UPJuniors
and four M'elodies.
Deans notes that the surround system consists of five Meyer MTS-4A four-way
self-powered units, five CQ-1 wide-coverage main boxes, and five UPJ-1Ps (another
wide-coverage unit). Additionally, he says, "I'll use M'elodies [which are
ultra-compact] to push towards the front of the auditorium and UP-Js to go
underneath the balcony, hitting the orchestra." The side surround system consists
of eight MSL-4s, eight UPQ-1Ps, and ten UPJunior VariOs. Providing rear surround
are 14 M1-SMs, six M'elodies, and 17 UPJ-1Ps. Buried underneath the theater’s seats
in three rows, distributed throughout the audience, are 20 Danley Sound
Labs TH-115TH Bunker Subwoofers. They provide low-frequency content,
effectively used as seat rumblers, an approach previously used on other re-
cent Cirque theaters on the Strip. In the show’s Blue Suede Shoes number,
for example, a bass drop accentuates the song, rumbling the seats at the bottom
of the lower frequency sounds.
"The stage monitors are a combination of ten M1-SMs, built into the lighting
trusses, and CQ-2s, which are very long-throw speakers; those are actually
positioned 20-feet into the auditorium, firing at the stage at the center," says
Deans. "Again, because the proscenium is so wide, I needed to get sound into the
The mixer and monitor boards each use Meyer Sound Level Control System Series
Matrix 3 (LCS LX-300) as the mainframes, along with Meyer Cue Consoles, supporting
a total of 540 inputs and 776 outputs. "This way," Deans says, "with the fiberoptic
network, we can split—and all use—the same inputs. The fiber-optic is the point
where we split, because it's just a matter of jumping onto the fiber-optic and
jumping off whenever you need." Effects are played back on the Meyer Wild Tracks
system. Additional effects gear includes two T.C. Electronic 6000 and eight
T.C. Electronic M-One reverb units.
The fiber, by Optocore, is very stable. "No problems at all," says Deans.
"Because the auditorium space here is so huge, being able to convert it straight
into digital and send it on fiber keeps the quality." This avoids the capacitance
and resistance losses associated with long runs of copper: "We don't get that.
This is fantastic," he adds. "It's like doing it in a little theatre, as far as
the quality of that loss you get in copper."
Although drums and percussion are wired in, just about every other element
of the band is wireless, an approach that presented the design team
with considerable challenges. “We needed 143 wireless frequencies to
run this show,” explained the production’s Head of Audio,
Kevin Owens. “Our available spectrum was 470 to 694MHz,
so Sennheiser came in and coordinated all the frequencies for us.”
Additionally, the musicians’ in-ear monitors, which were intended to
broadcast in stereo, were receiving only monaural signals. After a great
deal of troubleshooting, the crew determined that the Nextel system antennas
used on the CityCenter property were rebroadcasting their signals with
blended channels. After coordinating the 5000 antennas that covered the
property (including 50 inside the theater), a solution to the problem was
managed by putting filters on the antennas in the venue.
The performers sport Sennheiser body mics (40 channels of EM 3732 UHF receivers
and twenty-nine SK 5212 body-pack transmitters) and Sennheiser in-ears (30 channels
of SR350 IEMG2 in-ear monitors with EK300IEMG receivers). The band mics include a
variety of Neumann, Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, Audix, Shure, AKG, and DPA units.
A Sennheiser transmitter is used for most of the instruments. Communications are
handled by the Clear-Com Eclipse intercom system and a Dynacord Proannounce paging
"The only thing we don't transmit from the musicians is the drummer," Deans
notes. "I wanted to make sure that key position was never transmitted, with all
the white space issues going on with digital TV and everything else. We have three
drum kits in the show and three percussion kits, so the drummer and percussionist
run around from one kit to another depending on the scene, whether it's on stage,
off stage, or built into the stage."
"My original intention was to give a feeling of being there in the
moment. However, the lighting design went in the direction of a more updated,
concert feel." — Marc Brickman, Lighting Designer
"Elvis was a rock ‘n’ roll performer," explained Janene Pettus, Head of Lighting
& Special Effects (and project manager for lighting installation). “So our lighting
rig and effects have to reflect that style." Mark Brickman’s production lighting
design created a plot relying on 100% moving lights (about 235 of them). The huge
array of moving light fixtures brings a rock concert motif to the show. Cueing
all the moving fixtures has been a significant challenge (there are over 2,000 cues),
and Pettus admits that focus points had to be updated continually, especially as changes
were been made to fine-tune the show in its initial working-in preview period.
Six GrandMA consoles run the show and were used to handle the steady stream of changes
during this time. Many changes have been small, while others have required a more
broadbrush approach to modifying the lighting plan. Part of the stage set includes
pods that raise and lower throughout the show. Originally, the face of the pods was
solid, but the creative directors felt that it looked too boxy. As a result, a perforated
textured facing replaced the solid facias and, suddenly, there was a reason to have
lighting beneath the pods. Luckily, the conversion was fairly simple: The pods had been
installed with power and DMX signal run out to them. Recognizing Cirque’s well-
established protocols that build-in the opportunity for the design to evolve
as the show is being previewed, Pettus noted that this was all a matter of how
things are done. “During the design process, we try to anticipate future needs."
And so it was with Elvis.
"The general direction was to make [the lighting] theatrical and artistic," Brickman
says. "The acrobatic side of the show was where we spent the most time in terms of
cueing, angles etc., trying to break that wall with the performers, as light in their
eyes is always an issue." The biggest challenge, says Brickman, came because "there
wasn't an opportunity to insert lighting into the set pieces. Our only choices were to
light around and above all the set pieces. The choice of an all-automated show was based
on the fact of the size and complexity of not only the theatre, but the large set
"Given the enormous size of the venue, cast, sets, etc.," Brickman says, "there
was a concern that we would not be able to give enough punch from the distance that
the instruments were allowed to be placed." To address this, "the majority of the
lighting is by [Philips] Vari-Lite. It has always been a proven performer for color
and overall reliability. Syncrolites were also chosen for their intensity and beam
spread as a front-of-house source."
The lineup of gear includes 110 Philips Vari*Lite VL3500 FX units, 28 VL3000 Spots,
67 VL3500 Spots, 24 Syncrolite Syncro MX4s, 170 Elation TriPARs, 26 Martin Atomic
strobes with scrollers, 36 Solaris Quasar 15K strobes, one Solaris T-Light 85K strobe,
twenty-five T8 Technologies Lumapanels, six Robert Juliat Cyrano followspots, two Clay
Paky Alpha Spot 700 HPEs, 90 ETC Source Fours in various models and degree sizes, 25
James Thomas PAR 20s, 30 Altman StarPAR CDMs, 75 Altman PAR 64s, and 154 Altman s
hort-nose PAR 62s. Lighting is controlled by a grandMA console, from MA Lighting,
with ETC Sensor dimming and an ETC Net3 network. Wireless Solution's W-DMX Blackbox
S2000 transmitters and R512 micro receivers send DMX to six roving VL300s and some
LED units on the jukebox set, rope light and MR16s in the Vegas set, and red beacons
on the "Jailhouse Rock" set.
"By surrounding the playing area with automated fixtures, we were able to create
rapidly, along with the design team, in real time," Brickman says. "The
overnighters grew considerably easier as time went on. As the show grew, and the
team became more comfortable with the design, we were able to integrate our lighting
during the days while blocking was ongoing."
Elvis liked things that were big, bright and flashy. The “big flashy show” also
extends to the lighting in the public areas and lobby, where Architectural Lighting
Designer Auerbach Glasow French provided Elvis-inspired movement of the architectural
lighting design. Blending architectural and theatrical lighting techniques, the audience
environment transforms from an elegant, subdued theatrical venue to a pulsating,
exciting Las Vegas showroom through the use of light and color. Color-changing,
high-intensity LED fixtures in architectural wall openings light the venue’s luxurious
drapery. Elvis’ colorful and dramatic life is reflected in the lobby design, where a
curving glass ceiling, internally illuminated by more than 6000 red/blue/green
color-changing LEDs, recalls elements of the LED screen array onstage. A glass wall,
referred to as the “Diamond Wall”—internally illuminated by 357 red/blue/green LED
fixtures comprised of 5355 LEDs—has these sources located behind lenticular lenses and
fluted vertical glass panels. The effect of moving light and color is a dynamic focal
point in the lobby.
Of course, lighting is the main thing, but "we also have fog machines [from Ultratec
Special Effects], haze machines [from MDG], and a lot of pyro in the show," Pettus
Matt Dillingham, of Advanced Entertainment Services, worked with Martin Gauthier,
Michel Tremblay, and Karl Seymour, of Cirque, to develop the show's pyro and flame
effects. Several of these required modifications to the control systems. In the case
of the Elvis statues, which pivot and move, says Dillingham, "It was necessary to
develop custom wireless control for their flame effects, to accommodate their
movement and also provide multiple redundant control features for safe operation.
A collaboration between AES, Sigma Services, and Doug Fleenor Design was essential
to accomplishing this." (In addition, Ultratec customized the timing of its droopy
gerb, a long-fall silver waterfall gerb to fit a specific timing need.)
The show also utilizes chilled liquid CO2, haze machines and regular foggers. During
rehearsal previews, guests in the first few rows complained they were fogged in for most
of the show. Pettus and the lighting team took note and coordinated with the resort’s
HVAC system engineers to create specific controls for the theater. As a result, show
technicians can adjust the fog response throughout the production, maintaining the
audience’s view to the stage without compromising special effects or the audience’s
ability to see the overall production in its glory.
“I would equate Viva ELVIS with Wagner’s Ring Cycle", Brickman concludes. "The
production is epic in scale and the show is an unpredictable hybrid. It’s opera, it’s
theatre, it’s dance, it’s circus. Lighting serves to help tell the story and translate
the energy of music and bodies moving in space. It’s a balance between light and dark,
truth and myth, and the magic of what we think we can see.”
"I like to push people's eyes and use the impact of fast editing.
There's gotta be 8,000 edits in this show. At least." — Ivan Dudynsky,
Image Content Designer
Put simply, the goal of Viva ELVIS was to bring Elvis back to Las Vegas. The creative
team decided early on that the only male singing voice in Viva Elvis would belong to
Presley. So, how would they bring Elvis into his show? The solution was found in
archival footage of The King that rarely had been seen by the public. For this project,
Dudynsky started by looking at 60,000 Elvis photographs, 30 films, 15 documentaries, ten
concerts and a lot of home movies, as well as shooting new footage and creating a lot of
graphic design elements for the show. The next step was figuring out the media solution
that would best display these images in the context of the production.
The brunt of the work is handled by the show’s technological centerpiece: a custom-
built 40'-wide-by-30'-tall Daktronics PS-12i LED wall. The million-dollar wall is
composed of 384 LED tiles per column, totaling 3,072 LED tiles (or 786,432 individual
LEDs). The wall is divided into eight individual five-foot wide columns that are tracked
on and off stage, functioning as a discrete unit, merging to create a single screen, or
separating into different single- or multi-column configurations. Cirque’s designers
were concerned with weight and associated noise from the LED wall, and chose Daktronics’
fan-less system to provide a quiet ambient sound environment. Four pairs of fiber run to
each of the columns, with two used for show control and two for backup. One of the
biggest challenges for Dudynsky was in "how to support the action on stage without
drawing too much attention to the screen while making sure there’s genuine interaction
between the two."
"On this level, when you're given this giant screen to work with, the biggest
challenge for me was obviously the footage. We looked at hundreds of hours of footage
to narrow it down to 30 songs in 90 minutes and, for each song, we were very specific
about creating a unique look, so you never see anything repeated in the show," Dudynsky
says. "I used nothing from after 1974, or 1973. There's a quality of footage that we
had to deal with - we weren't going to fight it - we were going to embrace it." However,
he adds, "It's not HD."
The team used Adobe After Effects to create both original and 3-D animations, as
well as to treat existing footage. The editing was done on an Avid system. "We had
16 terabytes of media on this project," he adds. "We did 10-15 versions of each song.
I've pushed the Avid to the max. We did all of our offline editing on the Avid. The
final outputs were all to QuickTime, uncompressed video. The video is controlled by
a Coolux Pandoras Box media server. The Coolux system ingests 1,024 by 768." (Tomcat
also provided two 95' x 54' projection screen frames, constructed with 12" aluminum
ladder truss, with 12" of adjustability built into the side frames. As was the case
with all of Tomcat's custom contributions, self weight was a critical issue because
the theatre's rigging load tolerances were very slim.)
"Sometimes the choreography drove what we did; sometimes we drove what the
choreography did," says Dudynsky. "In a song like ‘Suspicious Minds,' Erich and
Hugo gave me the music. I edited the music, and then the choreographers took the
video that I gave them, and matched some of the choreography to it. I really
enjoyed that process, collaborating with the music guys, and with the choreographers
and acrobats as well. That was fun. That was definitely something new that I hadn't
worked with before."
Six Christie DS+ 10K-M projectors mounted along the balcony provide additional
projection capability. According to Head of Projection Tom Juliano, he chose them
for their “small size and bright output.” Two projection surfaces - a slightly curved
scrim for "Love Me Tender" and a large screen from MDI for "Burning Love"
(delivering a montage of romantic sequences from Presley's films) - provide
an intimate setting that was not possible to achieve using the giant LED wall.
(They also deliver images of the singer's wedding onto a veil during "Can't Help
Falling in Love," as well as rarely seen footage of him in the military during "Love
Directly above the stage, two moving DL3 projectors project images onto the stage
and on additional scenic elements. The DL3s are mounted about four feet apart, and
all projections are non-blended, because the challenge involved in continuously
calibrating the moving coordinates rendered an edge-blended approach to be infeasible.
Six Coolux Pandoras Box Servers manage the projection system. Two of the servers
are configured for an SDI live input, but the show currently is using only prerecorded
material. Coolux also furnished an application, Widget Designer Pro, which provides a
seven-inch touchscreen monitor used to trigger cues or take control of the projectors
remotely. Additionally, an Avitech Multi-Viewer allows preview system playback without
having to actually turn on a projector, which was especially beneficial during the
rehearsal process. “We can monitor the projection system without blinding performers,
and they can focus on perfecting their dance moves,” explained Juliano.
Dudynsky says the most difficult challenge was balancing the visual excitement
of the video with keeping attention on the live performance. "It's something I
really commend Cirque on," he says. "Because they did take a risk and allowed
things to happen on stage that you wouldn't see in any other Cirque show."
"I knew nothing about Elvis when I started this project, and now, I put him up
there," he adds. "You know, he defined ‘pop star' before Justin Timberlake and
Michael Jackson and Ricky Martin. I mean, look at those moves! I really respect
him. He was a simple guy, too. He liked to go home and ride horses, drive his
cars, and play football." Maybe, but there's nothing simple about the tribute
that is Viva Elvis.