After developing the show at its Headquarters in Palmetto, Florida, Feld Entertainment launched ‘The Marvel Universe Live’ arena tour in July 2014. Marvel Universe Live showcases a story of heroic Marvel characters fighting the evil Loki and his partners, features: projections and video, live motorcycle and car stunts, and performers portraying a huge number of Marvel characters to the delight of fans rushing to see the show.
For Marvel Universe Live, TAIT Stage Technologies designed, installed and commissioned a complex automated rigging and show control system capable of flying large scenic elements as well as performers in arenas with varying specs. The sheer number of cues and pace of action on this show required two operators, one running a touring PC Wing setup and the other the main Acrobat G*6.
At the core of the TAIT Stage Technologies system are two touring winch “farms”, one on each side of the set. Each farm consists of six winches mounted on a custom, tour-able frame. The winches are capable of clipping to any of the show’s 20-plus drop lines, which are used for performer entrances and exits, the Spider-Man pendulum swings, and fight choreography.
The winch lines divert to the end of each winch farm and then are clipped to any of the lines dropping from the grid, allowing the effects to run from just 12 winches. These winches are used as point hoists to fly performers. The first consideration in a show of this size and complexity is safety. Each winch not only has its own local enable/disable button mounted at the winch farm but each is also assigned an operator, who disables the winch whilst clipping to a new line. The operator communicates to the up riggers, informing them when the winch is clipped to the line (thus safe to hang a performer); and then to release the winch to the desk, once the performer is hung and safe to move.
Two further winches run the “garage door”; a large set piece that forms the back wall and is also capable of rotating down to become a raised stage.
The most complex parts of this incredible touring system are the three trolleys on two tracks. Each trolley contains two winches to act as the raise/lower, and four independently controlled drive wheels that share torque and vary their speed to accommodate the track curves. Each trolley also has a rotate mechanism allowing the two drop lines to be rotated 270 degrees at 40 rotations per minute. These trolleys are capable of traversing and lifting at four feet per second and are used individually or in tandem for many of the show’s effects.
There is one fast track system comprising: one winch for traverse and another for raise/lower, with an auto compensation code ensuring that the lift height is maintained, regardless of traverse position.
Finally, there are over 20 variable speed Navigator Cham hoists, chain hoists and eight fixed speed chain hoists used for deploying various set pieces throughout the show as well as being used as a performance space and also for motorcycle stunts. Half of the variable speed Navigator chain hoists run the expanding and contracting spiral scenic piece in the show. The other half of the variable speed Navigator chain hoists are required to run the Crown section of the Statue of Liberty. The eight fixed speed Navigator chain hoists with Chameleon software are used for scenic effects.