There is no doubt Cirque du Soleil pushed the parameters of stage design beyond
the unexpected, charting new waters, so to speak, in their fourth permanent venue in
Las Vegas. Anyone surprised by the 1.5 million gallon pool of water that serves as
a “stage” for “O” at Bellagio, will be even more surprised at the MGM Grand where
traditional ideas of stage design have been thrown out the window and replaced with
an abyss: a 50-foot-deep hole filled with moving scenic elements on which Cirque du
Soleil's KÀ is staged. Above every other aspect, the unprecedented use of technology
in KÀ represents a revolution for live theatre. It's incredible scale often leaves
the spectator breathless. KÀ's production values are immense. Several emerging
theatrical technologies are brought together in this show with the overall effect
of making the staging as fluid as possible, enabling scenes to shift quickly in and
out like a movie. In fact, Director Robert Lepage's goal was to tell a story on stage
using the "language of cinema" and he aimed to achieve this goal through inventive
use of technology. With KÀ he wholeheartedly succeeded.
[ Le Théâtre •
The Decks •
The theatre that houses KÀ is a unique space; its most extraordinary aspect may
be that it was achieved within the confines of an existing building. The former home
of EFX (itself the most expensive and largest-scaled theater installation in the
world) was reduced to a shell and a completely new theatre and lobby put in its
First, the floor area of the stage was removed, creating an abyss housing the
five stage lifts, resulting in a total of 4,950 sq. ft. of flexible staging area.
Next, the theatre configuration was altered, from a cabaret space filled
with booths, tables, and chairs, to a theatre that seats 1,951 audience members.
And then, a new set of catwalks and grid decking over the seating area was added
for performer access and lighting and technical systems in the front-of-house area.
The control booth was reconfigured to allow space for the production’s extensive
lighting, audio, projection, and automation controls. The control suite features
2,850 sq. ft. of booth space and 170 linear feet of glass; it offers a view of
the entire performance area.
Meanwhile, the building’s infrastructure had to be totally reworked to accommodate
the production’s extensive technical needs. All spaces, including rehearsals halls,
technical offices, training rooms, dressing rooms, shoe and costume maintenance
areas, green rooms, and a new annex (housing Cirque du Soleil offices, support
facilities, and a rehearsal room with a full-span overhead gridiron) were
interconnected with sound, video, and communications from the stage area. New
structural supports were added for the extensive automated rigging system,
including an 82-foot long hoist-support structure in the arbor pit, as well as a
37-foot long “battle-hoist” structure on the grid. A series of new company switches
and equipment power were distributed throughout the theatre, for chain hoists,
special effects, and specialty equipment. And a new multi-tiered rigging system
was developed at the grid level to allow for sophisticated stage automation
systems. (Jaque Paquin conceptualized and designed, with Pierre Mase the theatre’s
rigging and acrobatic systems; project manager Jeremy Hodgson, working with Tom
Neville of Auerbach, developed the system).
Also, three high-speed data and communications networks were installed in the
space. But we're getting a little ahead of ourselves here. Suffice it to say,
everything had to be reworked from the ground up... quite literally.
Collaborating with Cirque du Soleil's creative team, UK-based architect Mark
Fisher served as both designer of the theatre and the scenic elements for KÀ.
Nearly three years before the show premiered, Fisher met with Robert Lepage, KÀ's
French-Canadian director, learning about Lepage's vision of an epic tale spiced
with Eastern (India, Asia) flavor. He then went home and began his design process.
One of his first references was Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto, Japan that stands on an
enormous palisade of tree trunks. “I was not interested in the temple itself,” Fisher
says, “but rather the structure under it. Imagine if the theatre was carved into a
structure like that.” His idea of carving out a space translated into a vast,
cathedral-like theatre. In October 2002, Fisher presented a computer animation, with
a dramatic wooden post and beam design, to Cirque founder Guy Laliberté, Lepage, and
other members of the theatre design team. Everybody said, “yes, we'll have one of
those please,” Fisher recalls. The final look is “industrial Baroque” with four
levels of posts (vertical pillars) and beams (metal catwalks) embracing the show,
and serving as an infinite number of performance platforms.
Fisher, known for his big, flashy rock concert sets, made a conscious decision
to design the stage, set, and auditorium together as an integrated concept. The
thematic voyage extends right into the lobby. “The idea was to create a promenade
of theatrical spaces that made the transition from the casino to the theatre,” says
Fisher. Here glass doors lead from the casino into a foyer, and into another world,
adding to the myth that all this was there before Cirque du Soleil discovered it.
Guests enter from the casino into a dark, low-ceiling space with lights the color
of glowing embers. Large tree trunks, banded with light, marks the edge of the main
lobby, where the ceiling soars to expose the full height of a wall, which appears
to be an inverted ancient ship’s hull. Colored light plays on the surface of the
vessel wall. Before the performance, musicians located in the trees play the strings
of a giant harp.
The main lobby theatrical lighting is provided by ETC units, using color and
pattern projectors to light the floors, metal mesh wall curtains, and stringed
harp. ETC Source Four Zooms light the vessel wall. Other Source Four Zooms with
gels light the lengths of the harp strings. Mole-Richardson Nooklites mounted to
the exposed structural beams are inspired by the Post and Beam design. Surface
mounted MR16 monopoints, by BK Lighting, are recessed into the floor to reinforce
the shape of the curved glass wall and uplight the glass fins.
Openings in the vessel wall led to the concession counters and public rest
rooms. These spaces have an industrial feel, with metallic painted finishes and
glow acrylic panels in the ceiling, walls, and the fronts of the counters.
Fluorescent strips with dimming ballast and T8 lamps are mounted so as to be
visible behind the acrylic panels. Prescolite recessed adjustable MR16 downlights
with colored lenses light the counters. Compact Shaper Lighting fluorescent
sconces with dimming ballast create a sense of glowing portholes leading to the
Entering the audience chamber from the lobby, one passes through a sheet of
saturated blue light into a glowing blue entry vestibule. The blue light is
created by a fiber-optic narrow beam wall-grazer by Glass Illuminations mounted
in the ceiling behind the first set of doors. Mounted on the ceiling line at the
side walls are Color Kinetics ColorBlaze fixtures with blue LEDs to fill the void
with blue light. Recessed Prescolite adjustable MR16 units with blue glass filters
provide pools of light at the entry doors.
In the audience chamber, the ramp is lit with Architectural Area Lighting
Occulus fixtures above the entry doors. Architectural MR16 and PAR lamp fixtures
are integrated into the Post and Beam structures. The house lighting system uses
Kurt Versen fixtures mounted halogen downlights, each customized with a yoke and
top relamping feature. The fixtures are mounted to the technical catwalks above
the house and have narrow or medium distributions based on throw distances. ETC
Source Four PARs mounted to the Post and Beam structure and Prescolite recessed
adjustable downlights under the control booths supplement the catwalk fixtures to
provide uniform lighting. Bega low-voltage halogen step lights are recessed into
the walls for egress lighting. Tivoli warm white LED seat lighting, on dimmers,
provides egress lighting during the performance.
KÀ opens with fire and smoke effects billowing from the abyss. The special effects
are by Gregory Meeh of the Brooklyn-based Jauchem & Meeh, with pyrotechnics from
Groupe F in France. “Fire is one of the main themes of KÀ, and it is used in a
primal, primitive way,” says KÀ lighting designer Luc Lafortune, who added red and
amber to the light to support the action of the fire. At the same time, the archers
begin to appear in the post and beam construction of the theatre, and it is here
that the beauty of the theatre design is apparent.
During the pre-show, approximately 120 fireballs are discharged. These fireballs
measure 30 feet in height and reach temperatures of 1200°F. Many of the fog effects
are created using liquid nitrogen, which has a temperature of approximately -300°F.
By mixing it with hot water, a low fog effect is created. The liquid nitrogen is
stored in 13,000 gallon storage tank nearby.
The rise to the seating is gradual so that people cannot see into the abyss
when they enter. Entrance ramps on both sides of the auditorium create an aura of
surprise as the audience enters the 1,951-seat space. “We raised the ceiling and
the proscenium height to exaggerate the sense of verticality,” says Fisher. "If I
wanted to achieve anything -- you just want people's jaws to drop. In this room
I wanted that moment to be when you come up the ramp, turn the corner and you just
go 'I don't believe it.'"
Lafortune illuminated the post and beam construction, using 600 Color Kinetics
Color Blast LED fixtures and 750 Mole Richardson single cell Molefay fixtures,
whose signature maroon color blends with the oxidized red of the pillars themselves.
The Color Kinetics fixtures were also custom powder-coated in Mole Richardson red.
More than 1800 fixtures are integrated into the post and beam construction including
internal fixtures (A-lamps), which illuminate the “crystals” on the bottom of each
By placing so many small, discreet sources in the posts and beams, a number of
different looks can be created. “It can [appear] like a Japanese temple or an iron
foundry or even a jail when the railings are lit in cold white to emphasize the
steel,” he says. At one point, the posts are lit internally with ETC Source Four
Parnels, adding a green glow as drummers perform on the exterior of the catwalks.
To replace the stage, Fisher designed a floating deck, referred to as the
sand-cliff deck. Measuring 50-feet wide by 25-feet deep and 6-feet tall, it was
engineered by M.G. McLaren and built by Tomcat USA. It consists of seven steel
main structural pieces, six aluminum I-Beam deck frames, 10 cladding frames, 10
catwalk components, three elevators, 18 nosing deck frames, and 15 aluminum acrobat
rail frames, and 80 individually controlled 24-inch-long pegs. Airbags and performer
safety nets deploy when the deck is moving.
The deck attaches to a center hub that is supported on a “wrist and arm” assembly
cantilevered from a torsion tube. The tube spans between two support columns 86-feet
apart that extend from the basement to the upper catwalk level. The hub is 10-feet
in diameter and allows the deck to spin 360° and tilt vertically up to 100° (more
“forward” than 90°). It can also lift, tilt and spin simultaneously. The gantry
crane and Sand Cliff Deck are powered by five 250hp pumps and 3500 gallon oil
reservoir. The entire deck/gantry assembly weighs between 280,000 and 350,000 lbs.
(unloaded) and can be lifted at a rate of 2' per second.
And behind all this is a scrim (a sheer black curtain) that measures 75-feet
tall by 140 feet wide.
Inside the deck are three circular elevators five feet in diameter. There is
also a systems of access tunnels, show and work lights, drive units for elevators,
high-voltage 480V and 208V distribution panels, lighting dimmers, and storage
areas. Mounted in the deck surface are 80 individually controlled pegs that pop
out of the deck surface for acrobats to use and climb up the deck when in a
When horizontal, the deck can hold synthetic “sand” (made of ground cork), with
3-inch sand-retaining actuators holding the sand in place, but when the deck tips
the sand can be dumped. There are acrobat rails on all four sides, and the surface
of the deck is a painted scenic treatment with projection tiles. Everything was built
and test fitted at Tomcat. The deck has a self-weight of 90,000 lbs. and had to be
broken down and shipped out on six flat bed trucks. The torsion tube and wrist and
arm assembly for the deck were built by Timberland Equipment, a company that normally
builds mining equipment.
Some of the thoughts that went into the creation of the set include the idea of
"doing away with gravity, to some extent -- and so the idea of a void came out of
that." Cirque spent $12 million US on the stage alone. "Robert wanted to do a show
about gravity, to change the perspective of the people," Mongeau said. "At one point
they felt the seats could go back and the audience could look up in the air." That
idea was rejected. "But he always wanted to change the perspective of the
audience," Mongeau said.
“The deck is the conceptual answer to the void,” says Fisher. “Lepage wanted a
sequence of cinematographic scenes with disorienting points of view that would defy
gravity. The result is a deck that floats in space.” There is also a Tatami deck
(built by Show Canada) that serves as a B stage, sliding open to allow scenes to c
rossfade. It measures 30x30 feet and weighs between 75,000 to 100,000 pounds. The
Tatami Deck can slide forward almost 50 feet at full travel, like a giant sliding
drawer. At its full extension, it appears to float over the abyss. It runs on two
electric motors and uses hydraulic brakes. Five smaller, odd-shaped lifts by Gala
surround the two main decks and are used for maintenance and performance.
The consultants at Auerbach • Pollock • Friedlander collaborated here on rigging,
stage lifts and machinery, lighting, sound, and automation control for the stage
lifts and floating deck. “There is a master rigging control system, for all of the
automation in the show. This interfaces with the hydraulic control system for the
gantry, the 26 motors for the stage lifts, and all the hoists and pegs. There are
approximately 223 axes of control,” says S. Leonard Auerbach, ASTC, senior design
principal of the firm.
Fifteen control points, where any of five remote Nomad consoles by Stage
Technologies, as well as with two hand-held remote consoles, can be plugged in,
provide multiple options for automation operators. Rigging includes 120 line sets
from JR Clancy, with 40 Big Tow winches by Stage Technologies, used for flying of
specific scenic elements. Sophisticated acrobatic rigging was designed in
collaboration with Cirque du Soleil's acrobatic rigging designer Jaque Paquin.
“The exciting thing about the rigging is a series of 16 high-speed battle
hoists from Stage Technologies (higher speed than the Big Tows) that allow the
performers to walk up the deck wall when it's vertical, straight up and down,
parallel to the floor,” says Neville. “The performers control their direction
and speed via wireless control pendants attached to their costumes, which include
One of the biggest challenges for Lafortune is the fact KÀ is more literary and
story-driven, another first for Cirque du Soleil, which he admits to finding a
little intimidating in the beginning. “The process was more like theatre than I am
used to, and the script served as a catalyst for design choices. I quickly realized
that Robert Lepage is a man of words. He also works with continuity and a
chronological order. My work is more intuitive,” he says.
The story is Shakespearean with twins, separation, conflict between groups of
people, the fight for survival, and coming of age. "I wanted to define the two
different worlds: that of the protagonists in the emperor's court and the antagonists
who are the rival archers." Finding himself in a literary ambiance with script in
hand, Lafortune decided to write his own lexicon, including words of inspiration to
help define each of these worlds. For the emperor's court, the primary words were
water, wood, and paper, further honed by such descriptions as a summer night,
floating, ephemeral, lightness, thinness, warmth, lanterns, and incandescent light
sources. In contrast, the archer's den was defined principally by metal, with such
adjectives as industrial, solid, structural, oppressive, heavy, immense, monolithic.
In contrast to the warm incandescent glow of the court, the archers were bathed in
the cold, ugly glare of arc sources.
Lafortune also looked to images to put these words into a visual vocabulary as
well. For the archers' environment, he was dawn to images of refineries at night
with glowing green light, transposed on stage as 48-inch green neon tubes by
Encapsulite. “The archers are not aesthetic. They live in a cold metallic world and
are motivated by meanness,” says Lafortune, who sat with Lapage and showed him his
collection of images, including rippling reflections of water and iron foundries.
“We kept some and discarded some until we agreed on the inspiration for the show.”
The images helped define the look for each environment, which were then transposed
into lighting fixtures and colors that would convey them.
"KÀ is very cinematic, so I looked to films for inspiration as well,” notes
Lafortune, who mixed a DVD of scenes from a range of films, from Sally Potter's
Orlando and Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books to sunlight reflected on the bottom
of the ocean in Pirates of the Caribbean and the industrial quality of Blade Runner.
Some of the industrial sources include 400W Mariner SFMM floodlights by Hubbell.
“These have high-temperature HTI arc sources as are used in parking lots,” says
Lafortune, who adds that these fixtures are used with mechanical dowsers to overcome
the long strike time. He also opted for 5000W Mole Richardson Molebeam projectors
to serve as backlight followspots. “I wanted the look of followspots without the
ellipse of the followspot light in the air,” he adds. These are used with the
“toothy” Wybron Eclipse dowsers. “A perfect look for the archer's environment,”
From the very beginning of the show, Lafortune creates lighting that draws the
audience in. A twinkling effect is created with 12 Selecon Pacific luminaires with
575W MSD light sources, fitted with customized City Theatrical EFX Plus3 effects
machines. “The look is like the Northern Lights. It is ethereal and aquatic,” notes
Lafortune. During a stormy shipwreck scene, with powerful Lightning Strikes strobes
flashing along the proscenium, realistic cloud projections were added (on a scrim)
by mixing clouds from front-of-house Barco projectors with cloud effects wheels on
the Selecon fixtures.
Although fire is a main theme of KÀ, the color red is used very judiciously. One
scene where red light is used effectively is in the battle scene, where the performers
are fighting on the sand-cliff deck in a vertical position with extraordinary
projections timed to their movements. Here, the red is clearly the color of blood
and battle. The projections, designed by Holger Forterer, are abstract and nicely
integrated with the lighting and scenic elements. In the battle scene, the archers
are lit by the projections on the vertical deck, while the principals are lit with
followspots, creating interesting layering in the light. “The deck is moving, so
sidelight is not possible,” says Lafortune. “When the deck is completely vertical,
the light casts shadows that are larger than life and very menacing.”
By far, the brightest scene is on a beach, where crabs pop out of the sand and
a starfish dances jauntily (articulated costumes courtesy of designer Michael Curry).
“The idea is that you need sunglasses, and there is a reflection of the sun on the
sand and the water,” says Lafortune, who used a row of PARs to backlight the performers
from behind, with additional sidelight to accent the sand. Followspots help pick out
the creatures and actors from the sandy background. All of the followspots are 2500
HMI D'Artagnan by Robert Juliat, and positions include the lighting booth, a mid-house
catwalk position for a steeper angle, and at the proscenium. Altman beam projectors
in the basement are used to light translucent fabric birds that flutter over the
audience as a transition to the beach scene. “The birds are only lit from below,” says
Lafortune. “There is nothing above them but the stratosphere.”
The lighting also has various textures and layers, from icicle gobos in a blizzard
scene where falling snow twinkles against the black abyss, and a more whimsical look
for a forest scene with split gobos of green and yellow, or a faint blue wash on
galvanized metal pipes that track in as trees. There are also projections of concentric
moving lines that add yet another layer. These scenes are equally lit from above with
steep back angles (rather than straight overhead positions) and below with a lot of
gear in the basement. He also points out that the “residue” lighting has to “die” in
the abyss, as there is no room in the wings.
One of the harshest scenes is the construction of the Wheel of Death, a large
acrobatic apparatus that is later used by acrobats who defy gravity as they fly
around the moving wheels. As the evil archers are “constructing” this torture
machine, real sparks are flying, and the entire stage area is empty, with the
performers suspended on a catwalk over the void. Added to the evilness are the
green neon tubes, PAR94 nine lights and 4kW HMI fixtures upstage on catwalks. “The
theatre is the decor,” he says. “The masking is gone; there is no deck and no tatami
mat. All of the catwalks are visible all the way to the top of the theatre, and there
are lights everywhere including on the hoses for the hydraulic system and the steel
columns of the theatre.”
To accomplish all of this, Lafortune and his lighting team, including associate
lighting designer Nol van Genuchten, lighting director Jeanette Farmer, moving light
programmer Hubert Tardif, and many others, spent 11 months in the theatre, starting
in March 2004. Tardif programmed the moving lights on a Flying Pig Systems Wholehog
3, while Lafortune programmed the conventional lights himself on a Strand 550 console
(more on this in a bit). Ethernet taps throughout the theatre, and Strand's ShowNet
system, add to its complexity and ultimate flexibility, as the installation is one of
the largest and most complex theatrical lighting networks ever designed for a single
A completely new dimmer system was installed, consisting of 24 Strand SLD series
dimmer racks in three dimmer rooms. Two thousand twenty-six 20A dimmers and
forty-five 50A dimmers are network-controlled. All dimmers are status-reporting,
with local PCs running Reporter Pro for this purpose in each dimmer room. In
addition to the main dimmer racks, two remote dimmer packs are located in the
Sand/Cliff Deck and are controlled via wireless Ethernet. There is extensive
distribution of 20A and 50A dimmed circuits, utilizing custom-fabricated plug
boxes. A wide-ranging system of cable trays was installed throughout to allow
multi-cable distribution from these circuit boxes to virtually any light fixture
hanging in the theatre.
Emergency power transfer to selected architectural circuits is handled with
six 24-circuit, UL 1008-compliant emergency transfer panels. All networked power
circuits for consoles, PCs, and other sensitive computer grade components are on
dedicated centralized UPS circuits. A large system of switched loads of 120V single
phase and 280V single-phase are distributed throughout the theatre and are under
Lighting control is provided by two Strand 550i 54-submaster consoles, each
with 6,000 channels and quad video displays; four Strand 520i 24- submaster
consoles with 6,000 channels and dual video displays; two Strand 510i rack-mount
consoles with 6,000 channels, and two High End Systems Wholehog II consoles with
Strand ShowNet network nodes. Forty universes of DMX can be mixed and matched to
any of the 100 double- network taps distributed throughout the theatre. Sixty
portable SN 110 nodes are available, all using power over Ethernet ports. There
are five wireless data access points allowing use of handheld wireless remotes,
and/or a remote wireless notebook for console video displays anywhere in the
theatre. (Michael Lay was project manager for Strand).
All network equipment is housed in nine racks interconnected with three fully
redundant fiber-optic backbones. All network switches/hubs are managed and patch
bays are included for all taps and nodes. AMX-based card racks are also located in
the racks for use of touch screens for network, house, and work light controls, and
network video distribution electronics for touch screen feeds. In addition, the racks
include space for system file servers and rack-mount consoles. Remote AMX-driven
color touch screens, in both fixed and portable configurations, are located throughout
the theatre for use by stage managers and lighting technicians to control cue lights,
rehearsal lights (featuring digital virtual sliders) and to view remote stage video
"Much of the system is software-driven and not fixed due to hardware,” says
system designer Larry French of Auerbach • Pollock • Friedlander. “It is very
unusual and very cutting-edge. They have pushed the limits as far as they can be
pushed. In terms of routers, switchers, hubs, nodes, and back-up systems so that
the show can go on no matter what, this is one of the largest managed networks
Jonathan Deans, Cirque du Soleil's veteran sound designer, collaborated with
Paul Garrity of Auerbach • Pollock • Friedlander on the design and integration of
the custom surround sound system in the KÀ theatre, and acousticians from Pelton,
Marsh, Kinsella (Dan Saenz for room acoustics and George Kindler for the LCS VRAS
system). “There is an entire studio in the basement so musicians can play in a
controlled environment and watch the show on a large-screen monitor,” says Garrity.
“They can also leave the room and play, connected via in-ear monitors.” But the real
challenges for the audio include the sheer size of the venue and the fact that the
performance area is continually moving.
“There are two million cubic feet to fill with audio,” notes Deans. “The big open
hole eats up the frequencies. You need enough power in the room to get sound to
the audience.” The scenic decks and platforms occasionally move in front of the
loudspeakers in such a way that Deans could not rely on one system alone. As a
result, he opted for four Meyer Sound Milo arrays. Additional sound comes from
the custom-designed seats, manufactured by Irwin Seating. There is a left/right
stereo system in each seat which provides a personalized sound effects and surround
sound experience for each patron (time-aligned). There are even added sub-woofers
in the ceiling above the audience. The seats are divided into 16 zones. There is
one sub-woofer centered above each zone, as well as four on either side of the
proscenium (used for sound effects and explosions), and musical sub-woofers (two
sets of four) hung left and right of the proscenium arch.
The venue, comprising 1,951 seats, contains a total of 1,980,000 cubic feet of air
space covered by the 43,868 lbs. of PA. Total wattage of the system (at maximum
published output) is 524,150W. Deans says that this equates to 689 horsepower
which, when converted to kinetic energy, could propel a 175-lb. person straight
up at 1,477mph, or mach 2!
The sound design for KÀ utilizes a total of 4,774 individual loudspeaker
drivers placed in a total of 2,139 boxes. The mixing console, which is a large
LCS system utilizing the Cue Console, includes a show file which, to date,
has 1.5 million control points. The RF system is immense. The “RF world” above
the stage in a wireless room close to the grid is where technician Gary Tendi
looks after the RF systems. A basement equipment room serves as the heart of
the sound system control. As Deans explains, “the audio is no longer next to
the sound man. The control is via Ethernet.” In this case there is a Level
Control Systems virtual console at the in-house mixing position for digital
control. Solotech from Montreal supplied the sound equipment with Bob Barbagallo
serving as project manager. There are 246 carriers used in the show which, when
added to the building and other local RF brings the total frequency coordination
to 622 carriers! Telex mentioned to me during the recent ETS-LDI show in Las
Vegas that KÀ is using 44 drops of their BTR-800 systems, which is unprecedented.
Using software developed by David Rokeby known as VNS or “Very Nervous System,”
Deans has been able to integrate interactive sound effects into a Cirque show for
the first time. A video picture of the performance area is processed via the VNS
software and allows the user to designate a grid-work of zones within the live
picture. If movement is detected within a particular zone, the software is able
to transmit data to the LCS system which triggers audio. The creativity that this
software inspires is endless and it is a perfect fit to a Cirque show.
LCS itself is about as cutting edge a mixing and playback system as you can get.
Three separate LCS Matrix3 systems are deployed here: two LCS CueConsole modular
mixing consoles–one for FOH mixing and one for monitors mixing–provide the precise
control and automation needed for the complex sound design. The third LCS system is
equipped with VRAS (Variable Room Acoustic System) and provides seven different
zones of room acoustic enhancement, used for both effects and for generating a more
personal and intimate listening experience for the audience, no small feat
considering the immense size of the new theatre.
The sound design of KÀ makes extensive use of Space Map‚ a unique feature built
into LCS’ CueStation programming software for Matrix3. Space Map is a custom panning
surface that gives KÀ intuitive control of over 150 channels and over 4000
loudspeakers. A project programmed with CueStation software can have any number of
Space Maps, which can be used for different sound sources and sets of loudspeakers
at different points in the show. One of the benefits of this technique is that Space
Map adapts to the loudspeaker layout, rather than the other way around. Sound
designers can determine the loudspeaker locations first, and then program one or
more Space Maps appropriate to the show. Movements of sound are programmed as
trajectories, and then triggered in a cue by an operator pressing a button, or by
timecode reaching a designated point. Every input in the console can be panned
independently at any time.
The FOH system at KÀ includes fourteen LX-300 system frames providing Ethernet
control of 152 inputs and 184 outputs via a modular LCS CueConsole mixing desk.
Every piece of hardware within the LCS setup has an IP address and communications
take place over CAT5 cable. For monitors mixing, KÀ employs eight LX-300 system
frames with 128 inputs and 64 outputs and a second CueConsole mixing desk, also
connected via Ethernet. The VRAS system is comprised of an additional eight LX-300
system frames, seven of which incorporate the VRAS option, and provide forty inputs
and 144 outputs, making it the largest VRAS system to date.