When eight-time Grammy award-winner, Usher, announced a residency at The Colosseum, Caesar’s Palace, the list of expertise required skillsets from industry veterans to deliver a spellbinding and captivating performance for Vegas-goers.
Usher’s management agency, Nav Five Live and design firm FragmentNine, were set out to produce a spectacular automated show. It quickly became clear that to achieve the look they wanted, they’d need to bring in a team that had the experience to ensure that the show could come together with pinpoint precision each night.
For Usher’s Las Vegas residency, TAIT was brought on board by FragmentNine to handle the technicalities of creating a show that featured performer flying, overhead rigging, LED integration, and show automation, all of which are TAIT specialties.
“We appreciate working with FragmentNine and Paul Tate DePoo as their creative insight inspires us to push the boundaries of art and technology”, explains Aaron Siebert, Business Development Manager at TAIT, “Having been engaged with their design teams early on allowed us to collaborate on the design of their video column concept and further develop the size, composition, and motion of the columns to help realize their vision and bring the set to life.”
The rigging itself consisted of three runs of video track truss, each 120-foot long and spanning the width of the stage. Suspended from each of the three trusses via TAIT Trolleys, Rotators, Coat Hangers and Nav Hoists, were four rectangular 32-foot high, 30-inch wide LED video columns. Each tower had three axes of movement, allowing them to track on and off stage horizontally, rotate 180 degrees and move up and down above the stage.
The columns were used to display video content and to frame individual ‘scenes’ within the show. LMG Touring supplied LED screens on three sides of the columns and LED light bars on the fourth side. Crucial to the project’s success was the integration of the LED assets with TAIT’s custom-built column structures, so TAIT’s integration team worked closely with LMG to ensure everything fell into place perfectly.
With all of this equipment moving around on-stage each night, the reliability and safety of the automated gear was a key strength for TAIT to execute via its proprietary TAIT Navigator Automation Platform™ which is renowned for its reliability, safety and precision.
Navigator operated the video track trusses and performer flying winch, integrating with content-maker D3 and the lighting console. Timecode and PSN networking synced up the lighting, content effects and automation cues for seamless automation throughout the entire show.
Central to the show was a segment using an aerialist suspended on a pole center-stage. A F515 winch was used to suspend the pole from the overhead grid, allowing the performer to climb onto it, before ascending for the performance. Finally, the pole was lowered to stage level for the aerialist to dismount before it flew back up into the grid. Again, safety and reliability were vital here – key strengths of the Navigator automation platform.
While the column structures themselves were custom-made, the vast majority of the show’s assets came from rental stock, a particular focus for TAIT as it begins to address industry-wide sustainability initiatives. Given the tight timeline, using assets from rental stock helped pull show elements together quickly enough to ensure the set could be built and installed into the venue by TAIT’s teams in Lititz and Las Vegas in just under three weeks.
“Vegas audiences are always very demanding and expect something genuinely spectacular. Being able to deliver that for Usher’s residency makes me very proud of our teams here at TAIT. Even better, we did it all in just three weeks, which shows just how quickly we can build and execute projects for our clients,” enthused Gemma Hodgson SVP, Global Business Development at TAIT,
The show’s first run was from July 16 – August 14, while a second run is scheduled to take place from December 28 – January 1.