Stage One

Year 2010

Shanghai World Expo: Australian Pavilion

George P. Johnson

We were contacted by Paul Kenny of experiential marketing company, George P. Johnson, to provide a performer flying system for ‘Act 3’ within the Australian Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo. The resident Australian aerialist show, ‘Airbourne’ performed in the pavilion’s atrium space in a production that employed our innovative products to enhance the creative and performer possibilities.


The atrium had been transformed into the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef using clever lighting, stunning light sculptures and glass floral sculptures. Here, the graceful and witty ‘underwater’ aerial ballet delighted audiences with its story of two marine biologists and their search for the endangered Firefly Fish.

Performers dived, swam, swooped and floated over the audience during each 13 minute show – with our innovative ‘Spin’ harness being used for only the second time, allowing performers to achieve an unparalleled freedom of movement.

This unique product is much smaller and lighter than previous harnesses. It fits closely to the performer’s costume, allowing them to rotate through any plane. Working in conjunction with aerial choreographer Phil Hayes, we developed this harness specifically for use in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Ceremonies where it allowed performers to achieve a previously unattained freedom of movement.

In Shanghai, the flying system consisted of 24m of dual track, with the two tracks running parallel, 1.2m apart. The show ran four times a day for the whole of the Expo’s six month duration, with our technical support team ensuring that each of the 720 shows ran smoothly for the estimated 38,000 people who visited the Pavilion each day.


The show was programmed using innovative techniques resulting from our work on the 2004 Athens Olympic Opening Ceremony. It was here that we first used our ground-breaking ModelQ system, one of a suite of products that we have developed to help deliver the artistic visions of our clients.

ModelQ was first developed in order to work out the sequencing, movements and timings of the complex combination of numerous flown segments of sculpture in the Athens Opening Ceremony. This technology has developed further with each aerial project we’ve worked on, becoming the unique tool that we use today.

The ModelQ 3D visualisation provides a direct channel from animation to automation, allowing us to extract positional data directly from the model and use this to programme the automation. This enabled the show’s artistic director to choreograph the aerialists’ movements with precision, synchronising choreography with lighting, audio and visuals.


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