Designing, installing & operating
an aerial flying system
We have crew in PyeongChang, South Korea who are working
on all four Winter Olympic and Paralympic Ceremonies.
Using proven hardware in conjunction with our Qmotion
control software we have designed, rigged and are now
controlling all of the flown elements across each of
Read more about our involvement here.
The complex integration of
staging, technology &
This flying pomegranate, complete with a thousand seeds,
produced one of the stand-out memories of the
Opening Ceremony for the 1st European Games in Baku.
Manufactured in-house, this 10m symbol of unity
combined fastidious technical and artistic detailing,
magically opening mid-flight to release its ‘seeds’.
Dramatic transformations are pivotal to creating
spectacular moments. In Baku, one such transformation
saw the vast ‘cracked earth’ stage morph into a mountain
mid-show, thanks to the careful coordination of
twenty concealed stage lifts.
Attention to detail
on a global stage
We’ve been behind the world’s most exciting ceremonies,
celebrated by billions of people across the world.
Each ceremony comes with hugely different creative
and technical requirements, meaning that our experience
becomes a valuable problem-solving resource.
In Vancouver, a constantly moving, inflatable stadium roof
saw us develop our monitoring and control technology
in order to line up projected images on flown scenery
with millimeter precision.
The hidden work
behind the magic
An iconic symbol of the London 2012 Olympic Games,
Thomas Heatherwick’s cauldron was magical – and complex.
This elegant device comprised 204 individual copper petals
attached to 204 stainless steel stems and demanded absolute
precision for both its creation and breathtaking reveal.
With the world waiting in anticipation, the cauldron emerged
from under the stage to light up the games and create a truly
special moment that continues to resonate.
The drive mechanism for the carriages on the cablenet were driven by a series of winch farms located on the roof of the Olympic stadium.
The cablenet system above the stadium consisted of 14 cables meeting at a central hub, 38m above the stage.
Additionally, we manufactured and installed automated scenic elements such as the waterwheel and beam engines for the Industrial Revolution section of the ceremony. Read more about these elements.
Cablenet & Qmotion:
Numerous technological ‘firsts’ gave life to this sleeping giant.
We devised, designed, built and rigged the unique cablenet system
used to deliver the complex aerial and flying sequences of
the Athens 2004 Ceremonies.
Then, using our Qmotion control technology, we lifted the huge
Cycladic head sculpture from under the lake, breaking it open
to reveal further mythical sculptures, before all 18 parts were
flown around the stadium in a precise choreography.
Find out more about this ceremony on the next page.
The lake filling the floor of the stadium presented a huge technical challenge. Although it took four hours to fill, it had to drain in just three minutes to allow the athletes to enter the stadium.
The 17.3m high Cycladic Head rose from beneath the lake to be lit up by a laser display. The 20 tonne head then split into segments, breaking open to reveal further nesting sculptures within. The total of 18 segments were then flown around the stadium in a choreographed sequence.
Our Cablenet system was developed specifically for the Athens ceremony. A total of 57km of wire cable was used to create the net-like structure while 72 hoists, capable of lifting 1500kg at 2m/s, were used to lift and fly the 18 segments of the Cycladic Head.
The Cycladic Head sculpture broke open to reveal a Kouros figure, which in turn broke open to reveal a Classical figure- all built in our workshops. During rehearsals, re-configuring this complex array of interlocking sculptures and cables took a total of 38 man hours each time.
Qmotion, our automation and control system was used to accurately fly all 18 segments of the Cycladic Head from the radial hub of the cablenet, as well as flying all performers. To ensure positional control, we designed and developed Qpos, our positional control system.
A new era in ceremony
automation & control
Our ground-breaking track system powered all four Sochi
Winter Olympic ceremonies, opening up the creative
possibilities of the vast space within Fisht stadium.
The system comprised nine tracks, each with up to nine
carriages, useing buzz bar technology to guide the complex
choreography of performers and super-sized scenic
elements at high speeds and to pinpoint accuracy.
The system facilitated over 400 axes of movement
for a stunning series of performances.
Each of the nine tracks was 420 metres long and carried up to nine carriages. The track system carriages carried large capacity winches capable of lifting up to 1200kg whilst traversing at high speed.
Each of the multi-gradient tracks followed the line of the curved stadium roof, incorporating severe gradients and tight curves. The track rose from a starting point of 35 metres, to 70 metres above the field of play.
Generating and uploading the motion and positional data paths to each carriage had the potential to cause problems for the Sochi shows, due to the unusually great distances over which the large packets of data had to be transmitted. The bespoke system we devised enabled us to manage this.
In order to meet the theatrical demands of the show, the carriages not only functioned individually but could also be programmed to work reciprocally with any number of other carriages on any number of other tracks. This made the complex choreography of multiple scenic pieces possible.
Whatever your creative
& technical requirements
Talk to us about your next ceremonies
project, or arrange a visit and take a
tour of our facilities.
Phone +44 1423 358001
or take a look at our Contact page
for more details.
Creating bespoke experiential
and corporate environments
Helping you look good
We’ve been helping to create immersive and engaging
product launches, brand activations and all manner
of events for decades.
Delegates, special guests, the public: whoever
you wish to involve, we can build the entire
environment in which to bring it all to life.
From a simple but beautiful scenic build, to
automation, graphics and specialist finishes.
It's all about the people
Great relationships are important, whatever the
project or event. From your initial contact with our
Costings & Analysis team, you will be allocated
an experienced Project Handler whose job is to ensure
excellent communication and service across the board.
Our reputation is built not just on the performance
of our people, but on how we work with you.
Collaboration and a ‘can do’ attitude count for a lot.
Right up to the final touches, our crew are renowned
for always going that extra mile.
to the experience
It’s been over twenty years since we first suspended
a car and spun it around in mid air. Executing dramatic
manoeuvres with motor vehicles is where our Qmotion
automation system began.
These days, although we can offer over 400 axes of
complex movement, our skills are usually applied
in delivering smaller scale, yet no less ingenious
adaptations of these technical effects.
And with decades of R&D behind our products,
should your event require automation, you know
it will come with a proven track record and a
wealth of experience.
We created a dynamic ‘Giant’s Causeway’ of 24 individually controlled platforms that emerged from beneath the surface an 8m reflective pool filled with 30 tonnes of black dyed water.
Each platform was lifted and articulated by two independently operated hydraulic rams. The platforms took the car through a series of dynamic off-road type manoeuvres.
This technologically innovative stand was first installed at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show and has since toured motor shows across the globe.
The Geneva Motor Show welcomes over 700,000 visitors over a two week period. The automation package delivered meticulously engineered technology for both the Land Rover display and also a high-spec revolve for the Jaguar vehicle display.
Further technology was provided in the form of two automated 6m by 3m high-res tracking screens to the rear of the stand mounted on 56m of purpose built track. These screens came together to form a single screen.
As a representation of your brand, graphics
communicate far more than the words
they spell or the images they present.
Our understanding of font, colour and
varieties of scale and format can be key
to achieving the best way to communicate
your message, reinforce your brand and
engage your audience.
From simple signage to an eye (or bubble)
popping logo: our in-house facilities ensure
accuracy whilst letting the creativity of your
Size really doesn't matter
One look at our Projects portfolio and you’ll
see that we undertake all kinds of work,
of all manner of scope and size – and in a
all sorts of locations.
From a corporate event with a venue floor
requiring 4,500 sheets of ply, to a set of
Olympic Rings on Tower Bridge. From a
shopping centre brand activation to a
complete brand environment on a beach.
Our project portfolio gives us an unrivaled
breadth of experience. Our in-house facilities
give you the opportunity to create the very
best of events.
Talk to us about your next project.
developing new ideas
Unzipping the process
Time, tide and Serpentine schedule
wait for no one.
The timeline of the pavilion commission is
notoriously tight and while this imparts a
welcome sense of urgency and even excitement,
it also relies heavily on successful
collaboration, accuracy,a skilled workshop
and a deft hand at site management.
The 14m-high unzipped wall of the 2016 pavilion
required the precise orientation of the hollow
‘bricks’ to within a tolerance of just 1mm.
An experimental opportunity
The brief to create a temporary structure invites
a very different response from the architect and
similarly, requires a very different response from
us as manufacturer and builder.
The colourful chrysalis-like 2015 pavilion was
deliberately ephemeral. It explored the temporary
nature of the commission through the materials
used and employed a continually evolving and
highly experimental approach to the design.
Since 2009, we have constructed each of
the Serpentine pavilions, working with
some of the world’s most prominent
architects and producing a series of
vastly different demountable structures.
The pavilions have employed a wide range
of materials: wood, steel, cork, GRP and
EFTE to name a few; each structure using
them in new and interesting ways.
On this, the 2014 pavilion, we worked with
Smiljan Radic to develop the fibrous, textured
surface of the GRP panels.
A collaborative process
The build for each Serpentine pavilion has
followed more or less the same path and is
dictated primarily by the extremely tight
timeline. This, in turn, depends upon a
successful collaborative approach that includes
all parties, allowing rapid progress to be made
from the very outset.
The confined construction footprint limits
the type and quantity of work that can be
carried out on the site.
For Sou Fujimoto’s pavilion, we prefabricated
a series of 56 modules that were transported
by truck and fitted together on site.
With such a tight timeline for each build,
our ability to quickly fabricate sample
sections, fixings, finishes and assembly
techniques – all in-house – comes into its
own. Our CAD and 3D printing facilities
in particular mean rapid and detailed
feedback for the architect and allow the
collaborative process to flourish.
For the subterranean 2012 pavilion, we
worked extensively with cork, an unusual
but surprisingly malleable material, cutting
and sculpting it in our workshops before
fitting, planing and sanding it on site.
The importance of
Our origins in the world of theatre mean
we know how to take a deadline seriously.
On site, our experienced build team know
exactly what needs to be done and when,
ensuring that when the hoarding comes
down and the curtain rises, the pavilion
will be ready for visitors.
The painterly finish applied to Peter Zumthor’s
Hortus Conclusus set the scene perfectly,
providing a quiet backdrop for the planting
designed by Piet Oudolph.
From the ground up
As main contractor, we undertake all
ground works for each pavilion, providing
the necessary footings, foundations,
drainage, power and water, ensuring the
pavilion is fully ready for use as a party
and arts venue.
Once summer is over, we return the site
to its original verdant condition, as
required by the Royal Parks.
The 2010 pavilion by Jean Nouvel, saw us
fabricate the 45 tonnes of steelwork in our
workshops including a subterranean U beam
base for the nine 12.5m screen ribs.
A commission of contrasts
The diversity and inherently experimental
nature of the Serpentine commission
has enabled us to draw on a different
set of skills each year.
The complex geometry of the 2009 pavilion
drew heavily on our experience working with
composite materials. Each one of the 172 roof
panels was different, requiring invisible
fixings and bespoke column heads.
We are incredibly proud of our involvement
in such a ground-breaking series of unique,
innovative and diverse structures.
To talk to us about pavilions or structures,
phone +44 1423 358001 or take a look at
our Contact page for more details.
whatever the scale
Not all our projects are as large as the Sochi Ice
Breaker. At over 40 metres long and reaching
20 metres at her highest point, the amazingly
detailed giant was the largest scenic item we
have ever created.
Whatever the size, however, the same skills are
used to recreate our clients’ designs and achieve
astonishing detail for all sorts of scenic purposes,
whether gliding though a stadium, or driving
through the Yorkshire Dales.
The many layers
It’s is not just about the visual. Whilst we
create amazingly accurate reproductions
that really look the part, we also ensure
our scenic items perform.
Whether you need us to create a whole event
or to collaborate with others, our attention to
detail extends beyond the visual.
A whole range of our in-house departments contributed to the launch event in Paris. Significant contributions were made from metalwork, CNC, hand sculpting, fibreglassing, chroming, scenic painting, hydraulic engineering and automation departments.
Each of the precision replica boots made for this launch was 7 metres long – 25 times the boot’s normal size. They were revealed from within a giant ‘shoe box’ with an automated lid, both constructed from a steel frame, Layher scaffolding and a black gloss pvc covering.
After scanning the original boot, our 5 axis CNC sculpting facilities carved the boots from polyurethane foam into nine manageable sections. these were secured around an armature to
give strength and support. Fibreglassing was then used to consolidate the structure of each boot.
After CNC sculpting, our highly skilled hand-sculpting team took over, creating the astonishing surface detailing and enhancing the shape. They scaled up and replicated a range of textures including leather and cast plastics, reproducing the laces and stitching by hand.
We even created a series of separate giant chromed studs that were added to the boots on site. Despite the extremely short timeframe on this project, an extraordinary level of textural and visual detail was achieved.
Alchemy in the workshop
A great deal of research and testing goes
into creating some of the finishes we’ve
used. Understanding the processes behind
each stage of production, enables our scenic
team to use their knowledge of materials,
paints and finishes of all kinds to open up
a whole realm of creative possibilities for
Sometimes it may look like alchemy, but
in reality, a whole wealth of experience,
knowledge and skill goes into achieving
these extraordinary results.
It's where we began
and where we
continue to innovate
Our theatre credentials go back decades
and our experience takes in the West End,
regional theatre and venues across the world.
The capacity and diversity of our workshops is
what makes us different. With 12,000sqm of
high-tech workshop space at our disposal
across three aircraft hangars, we can realise
the most complex and challenging designs.
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
A unique package of automation, flying & scenery
The 9 tonne bus, Priscilla, was purpose built and fully self-contained. She was programmed to deliver 40 major movements during the course of the show, along with a host of minor movements. She delivered 22 axis of movement with 8 motors controlling 4 slew rings and 4 drive wheels.
Priscilla’s lighting was three-fold. We fitted traditional vehicle lighting and interior performance lighting however it was the exterior that broke new ground, with embedded LEDs forming a videowall comprising over 40,000 pixels underneath the bus’s PetG skin.
Scenery & props were manufactured accurately and speedily using facilities such as our 3 & 5 axis CNC machines, before finishing by our interpretation team. Detailing ranged from sun-bleached Australian road signs and a time-worn and grubby Outback bar, to the glamorous white and pink double staircase for ‘Les Girls’.
We provided all show infrastructure and stage modifications, manufacturing the 10m annular revolve and 2 scissor lifts. The Palace Theatre stage could not support the 9 tonne bus, so we strengthened it as well as anti-raking the first 5 rows to accommodate the specially constructed show deck and orchestra pit.
We provided performer flying for the three ‘Divas’, erecting an auto flying truss with three lines flying them up to 12 metres above the stage. We also provided 3 stock winches for counterweight assisting and two 3 tonne hoists for the huge ‘Les Girls’ staircase.
& Technical Services
From a design brief and the very first series
of producer & production meetings, we can
provide consultancy for cost planning and
technical specifications, including proof of
concept for significant scenic elements.
R&D and innovation is in our nature and we
have the facilities and people to test your ideas.
Even the kitchen sink
Whatever your production requires, we can
provide it. Above and below the stage, we
manufacture our own equipment in-house
but also have a huge range of stock kit
you can hire. On stage, we have a deft and
experienced hand, transforming set designs
into audience-thrilling reality.
to complex solutions
Our design team, engineers and scenic departments
have created some of the most iconic productions
and toured them across the globe.
Scale is relative.
We can accommodate both large and small.
Our traditional theatre skills are regularly
applied to a diverse range of projects.
Readily transferrable, these skills sit
at the core of our company and have
helped us become a world-renowned
business with a reputation for delivering
Talk to us about your next production.
Phone +44 1423 358001
or visit our Contact page.
The practical expertise
enabling the artistic vision
Playing to the gallery
Facilitating art installations makes good
use of our skills. Precision, patience and
care are all important. Listening to and
understanding the artist’s creative intent
are, however, paramount.
Our work in the creative industries
draws on the practical, technical
and creative, making us ideally placed
to assist in public realm art of all kinds.
From felt pen sketch to
home for 10,000 bowls
Ceramicist Clare Twomey knew what she
wanted when she came to visit us. We
worked from her sketch, refining the
shelving design to suit the needs of her
work, as well as the structural considerations
of the newly renovated gallery. The completed
installation weighs around 3 tonnes.
Of course you don’t have to know exactly
what you want when you contact us, we
can work with you to develop and refine
an idea or method.
Whatever the context
We work in a wide range of locations,
both inside and out. We can carry out
all necessary preliminary works such
as structural calculations and surveys,
while our highly experienced site crew
take care of all the groundworks.
When it comes to understanding materials
and finishes, our track record is second
to none. From the hand beaten copper of
Thomas Heatherwick’s London 2012 Cauldron
to the more prosaic use of hosepipes; we work
with artists to help them achieve their vision.
Lifting design off
Turning a two dimensional design into
a three dimensional reality can present
some unique challenges.
For these intricate sculptures, the primary
challenge came in the form of text. When
2D text is wrapped around a 3D model, retaining
proportions and legibility becomes a major
consideration. We worked with Jaguar’s
designs, developing the 3D drawings to
work out the best method of manufacture,
retaining both the creative and communicative
intent of the design.
Taking the 3D printed word cloud model we began working out how to fabricate a 1:1 scale model of the car in aluminium.
We ensured that each word was drawn accurately in 2D such that once cut and sculpted in 3D, the aluminium components would accurately connect to form the entire shape of the car.
The transformation from 2D design to 3D output remained a challenge throughout the project. Experimentation and prototyping with aluminium sheet occurred in parallel with the design development process.
Our CAD team worked alongside the designers from Jaguar to ensure that the sculpture remained faithful to the original design intent throughout the course of the project. The creative development process used a wide range of software packages from Adobe Illustrator through to SpaceClaim.
full of surprises
The breadth and calibre of our facilities
never ceases to draw excited comment from
artists and other clients who visit.
Our workshops offer huge creative potential
backed up by the practical expertise of our staff.
Research plays a large part in many of the
specialised projects that come our way, while
on-going R&D enables us to tread new ground
working with new materials and processes.
Take a few minutes to peruse our Kit pages or
come for a visit and see for yourself.
Creating the context
Designed by ZHA, this organic structure
housed a multi-sensory exhibition with works
by specially selected artists, who used the iconic
Chanel handbag as inspiration.
We assisted with several of the installations
within, as well as creating the 400 complex GRP
facade panels that formed the very pavilion in
which they were housed.
TV & Film.
Facilities, sets and scenery
for broadcast and cinema
TV & Film.
accurate & fast
Our CNC facilities are available as a
stand-alone service for sculpting multiples
or one-off items, from a range of foam or
All work is carried out by experienced technicians
who understand the demands of the creative
industries. We can offer a quick turnaround and
have the flexibility to accommodate tight deadlines
and filming schedules.
& when it counts
Our experienced site crews understand
the challenges and deadlines of TV
and film. They are renowned for getting
the job done, to the highest of standards,
achieving camera-ready results at precisely
the right time.
Winch & hoist hire for
Our precision high-speed systems have enabled
Lara Croft & 007 to defy gravity and provided the
drive behind all manner of special effects.
We design and manufacture our kit in-house,
controlling quality, performance and reliability.
Partnered with our Qmotion control systems,
our kit also comes with fully trained operators
or training for your own personnel, if required.
We have a vast inventory of kit in stock
available for long or short term hire.
Phone +44 1423 358001
Live television events
High-profile television events require
a design with impact and a build that
stands up to close scrutiny. Quality is
everything when your work is being
viewed by millions.
Find out more on our Projects page.
The test of time
Durability is important for long-running
TV shows and these sets need to be built
to stand the test of time.
As cost is important, we also undertake
set refurbishment, extending the life of a
well-designed set by giving it a brand new look.
Capacity & turnaround
When a large scale global event requires
multiple projects all at the same time, our
capacity and experience really come into
The way we control our work flow makes efficient
use of our facilities and ensures we deliver quality,
on budget and on time.
Innovation at the heart
Our engineering skills cross many
disciplines and over the years have
been used on all manner of projects.
We’ve won awards for our innovation
and this expertise is drawn upon for
From a single stage lift for a theatre,
a high-spec revolve for a car, or perhaps
a complete dark ride system for a visitor
centre. Whatever you want to move, we
know how to move it.
Engineering a change
Lifting performances off the stage and
into the air brings a whole new realm
of space into play.
We use track systems, cablenets or even
a single spot hoist to open up creative space,
bringing anything from 1 to 400+ axis
of motion into play for all kinds of
product launches, ceremonies and shows.
Leisure Ride Systems
Our acquisition of WGH Transportation
Engineering means we are now able to provide
all aspects of leisure ride design and manufacture
for the creative, entertainment and theme-park
This further dimension adds to the considerable
expertise of our technical department, whilst
complementing our ability to provide the
very best themed scenic environments.
From indoor floor mounted and suspended
rides, to roller coasters and personal rapid
for tight spots
Because we manufacture all our products
ourselves, we are able to provide highly
specific and bespoke engineering to
deliver exactly what is required.
From lightweight stage lifts for touring, to
lifts built specifically to manoeuvre into
a tight spot; from a turntable for a car
to a complete turnkey solution for a major
Room to experiment
R&D is inherent in virtually every project
we deliver. Finding ways to realise the
visions of our creative clients draws heavily
on ingenuity as well as hard graft.
Innovation requires space and we’re lucky
to have plenty. Test builds, test rigs and
trials allow both us and our clients to learn.
This learning enables us to make the kind of
choices that deliver the best of results.
Used in quantity and combination, our
stage engineering can be used to create
the most dramatic of transformations.
For the 2015 Baku European Games
Opening ceremony, twenty scissor and
column lifts enabled the earth to move as
the ground cracked open and a 14 metre
high mountain slowly emerged.
Our scenic team transformed the lifts
into vast slabs of rock, complete with
back-lit prehistoric paintings.
Taking someone else’s one-off design
and working with them to turn it into a
fully functioning reality has resulted
in some of our most rewarding moments.
Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the
London 2012 Olympic cauldron was seen
by audiences all over the world. The most
complex device we have ever built, it
delivered beauty and reliability in a
seemingly simple form, belying the
complex engineering within.