Action-Packed Theatrical Production for IDEX 2017 Opening Ceremony Awes Audiences

Industry Watch | March 14, 2017 | Feature

UAE ADNEC IDEX

As events go, there is probably no other theatrical production in the world that can boast the kind of special effects, choreography with military personnel and assets and scenic staging sets that all get thrown into a 250m x 60m performance stage that is built from ground up on a car park that is arranged into an action-packed and engaging show for a live audience. To deliver this show, Protec was commissioned to use the outdoor car park of the ADNEC Exhibition Centre in Abu Dhabi to build a temporary staging venue. Another 100m on either side of the staging area was used as backstage areas for the performers and vehicles, including all the required plant, ablution units, pathways, holding areas, production offices, etc.

The opening ceremony of the International Defence Exhibition and Conference took place on February 19.

The show had a mix of local heritage performances, local & international military parades and the main part of the show which was a battle enactment of a fictitious scenario where an elite military group representing the Land Forces, Special Forces, Navy and Air Force liberate ”a war torn nation in the mountains” from militia control.

The enactment featured air drops, low passing jet fly-bys, helicopters and naval support, firefights, fast moving pursuits involving tanks and armoured vehicles in challenging surroundings, a fully working and custom-built train and submarine as well as full movie grade special effects (including high grade vehicle hits, land fireballs and debris explosions, rock falls, bullet hits, water explosions, etc), culminating in the “successful liberation of the mountain village”. It was a technology demonstration worth the dedicated staging set that Protec built up for the show, which left audiences and special guests struck in awe on all five days this show was run.

This year’s live military demonstration attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces; Crown Princes of all the emirates; defence ministers and senior military officers from 57 nations, head of delegates and other senior officials, comprised of a breath-taking, all-action display that highlighted the capabilities of many divisions of the UAE Armed Forces.

IDEX, the main event organiser in conjunction with ADNEC & the UAE Armed Forces, used Protec to design, produce, direct and build the entire temporary venue for a show that was complicated and challenging. Eddie Andradé, the show’s creative director explains, “This show involves jets and helicopter fly pasts that have to be timed to the precise second to match up with the action sequences on the staging area performed by armoured vehicles, infantry, special effects that include large pyro explosions on land and on the mountains, water explosions, vehicle explosions, etc.” He continues, “This involves intense coordination between the show caller, stunt director and choreographer, special effects crew, stage managers, video, audio, cameras, the Navy, the Land Forces, the pilots, the Airport, the air bases, air traffic control, road traffic control, the police and civil defence.”

Stephen Lakin, Founder and CEO, Protec, who was in charge of building the entire scenic set said, “Under the temporary venue that Protec built, were the exhibition centre's utilities and drainage systems which had to be protected by the weight of the military vehicles some which weighed in excess of 60 tons. Therefore it had to be built up to 1m above the existing surface, graded up with sand, road base and tarmac/asphalt.” Protec also built a temporary 65m long x 30m wide x 1m high ‘lake’ which held 2million litres of water on which jet boats and a submarine were run to get involved in the action. Lakin adds, “We added working waterfalls that we built into the mountain set along with artificial greenery to complete the scenic visual.”

Protec’s staging department built all the supporting features and props. A 100m long railway track that was shipped from the UK was put together on site by them which was then complimented by a working train that was built out of timber and metal frames and run using a jeep to power the train on. Protec then built a submarine that was powered with a custom-designed motor pulley system. The submarine was built with steel frames and timber and had room for 6 crew in it, as well as a working hatch for the crew to emerge out of it on the lake during the show to join the action.

The mountains themselves were built out of base scaffold structures with carpet fascia that was painted to resemble rocky and moss/grass covered mountains and finished off with artificial greenery and landscaping. The mountains also had to be strong enough to withstand powerful pyro explosions at various heights, soldiers’ abseiling, zip lining and a lot of personnel movement. Over 400 tonnes of ballast was used to secure the structures which worked well with the high and dangerous wind speeds experienced especially during the build-up.

Two 16m x 9m LED screens were built into the upstage mountain structures with access to work behind them.

The audio package provided by Protec included 40 x L-acoustics K2 in blocks of 4 ground stacked with L-acoustics SB28 subs positioned between each set of two K2 stacks. Protec’s Head of Audio – Ed Ross explained, “We ran a dual redundant fibre network using Digico racks running digital outs and Optocore Sane units running analogue outputs to the LA8 amplifiers, this complemented our use of the SD10 mixing desk with SD-RE redundant engine which meant we could lose kit or connections anywhere in the network and not lose audio or control at all.” Ross continued, “For communications we used a Clearcom matrix and a selection of control panels, helix net belt backs and Motorola digital radios, these were integrated with Riedel RiFace units for seamless communication across platforms.”

When asked about the process of creating a show like this, Andradé said, “This is a very unique show. It’s not as simple as using your imagination and delivering an action movie styled show because it also has to be realistic in the sense that it being a military show demonstration, it needed to involve military procedures and methods. This calls for some serious research and coordination. From a creative standpoint, we had already done a desert theme and a port theme so this time had to be in a completely different setting. So mountains it was this time. Once we had the setting, we had to develop the storyline that had to be creative and yet practical and most importantly – safe for them to perform live.”

The complete production for the IDEX 2017 Opening Ceremony was, according to the client and event organisers (IDEX LLC, GHQ and ADNEC), the best they had seen and experienced in the exhibition’s history which didn't just meet the brief but went well beyond expectations.

Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, Group CEO, ADNEC had this to add: “Thank you very much on a successful IDEX, which for ADNEC and Abu Dhabi, was the most successful ever IDEX in its history.  This year’s show has broken all records, including reaching more visitors than previous years. Working with you all at Protec, was a pleasure for not only myself; but for all my team, who mentioned that it was a delight to work with such a professional and well organized and structured organization.  I am sure the stress behind the scenes was well worth it in the end.  What a marvellous Opening Ceremony and each day I watched the performance, I noticed even more intricate details to the show. The opening ceremony ran as smoothly as what I was hoping for and my expectations were not only met, but were exceeded.”

Protec engaged for the third consecutive time, delivers the most successful opening ceremony production for IDEX in the exhibition’s history.

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