# Frozen: Live at the Hyperion Followspot Effect

#### Joshua Hoffman

##### Member
Disney recently opened a Frozen musical at their Disneyland park to amazing reviews and crazy cool special effects. Just in this show they use projections, flying, tons of automation, video walls, lifts, puppets, animation, and so much more. It is truly beautiful. In case you haven't seen it yet, here it is:
One interesting effect is their followspot system. They seem to have multiple super bright projectors placed above the stage and around the theatre that is hooked up to a central computer. They actors all must be wearing sensors as well. But the computer must read where the sensors are, and create the followspot with the color and "gobo" that is set. Now this must be a projector because tracking with moving lights can get very difficult.

#### hobbsies

##### Active Member

Also, we are using 2 PRG Bad Boys as followspots here using their version 1 remote. We unlocked pan and tilt so that they can be operated by human spot operators and there's a handle attached to the front of the fixture that gives the operator control of iris and dowser. Color is controlled by the console. It's working extremely well. It's not quite the same thing as what Bill linked to. The spot ops sit next to the fixtures and operate them just as they would any other follow spot.

#### BillConnerFASTC

##### Well-Known Member
The OP seemed to suggest no operators at the sources - just the
multiple super bright projectors placed above the stage and around the theatre
- so I guessed remote since these should overcome the issues of automatic wireless tracking.

#### Kelite

##### Well-Known Member
Really great effects at 56:50 and on to the end. I'm guessing the changing and rotating gobos from above the main characters are indeed either moving head instruments with pan and tilt manually operated or the PRG Ground Control system.

Thanks for posting the video- very cleverly done and great use of video too!

#### Footer

##### Senior Team
Senior Team
Na, take a look at the video again, Its not a a human operator. It jumps too much. Its probably the new version of the autopilot system, something like http://cast-soft.com/blacktrax.

Disney is not going to pay a followspot operator when technology can do it cheaper. They play the long game. They want shows to have the smallest daily operating costs possible while giving high production values. You can do that when you keep throwing money at the problem.

#### ScottT

##### Lighting Programmer
Kyle's right - it's a Blacktrax system.

Disney is implementing them more and more - artistically, it allows spots to be in positions that were formerly impractical. Financially, in the long run, it saves on labor.

#### porkchop

##### Well-Known Member
There are other complex, magical talking rat themed shows out there using Blacktrax in less well controlled environments. I wouldn't be surprised to see the technology make it into the parks.

Their systems are starting to make their way into Vegas showrooms. Works really well if programmed by a smart individual. Really good idea to have backup lights tracking with intensity held at 0 on an inhibit fader for key moments. Not realistic for all shows though.

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#### Joshua Hoffman

##### Member
Na, take a look at the video again, Its not a a human operator. It jumps too much. Its probably the new version of the autopilot system, something like http://cast-soft.com/blacktrax.

Disney is not going to pay a followspot operator when technology can do it cheaper. They play the long game. They want shows to have the smallest daily operating costs possible while giving high production values. You can do that when you keep throwing money at the problem.
Yeah, after doing some research I did find out they are using BlackTrax. But, even with that system, wouldn't there need to be someone on the computer for switching cues between gobos/colors/intensities?

#### chausman

##### Chase
Fight Leukemia
But, even with that system, wouldn't there need to be someone on the computer for switching cues between gobos/colors/intensities?
The BlackTrax system works with the lighting console so the console still has control over the fixtures, so things like gobos/colors/intensity are all still cued normally.

#### porkchop

##### Well-Known Member
Yeah, after doing some research I did find out they are using BlackTrax. But, even with that system, wouldn't there need to be someone on the computer for switching cues between gobos/colors/intensities?
The lighting console controls functions other than pan and tilt. That could be run by a human board op (probably the best choice, and still a large savings in labor) or depending on the budget and complexity of the show it could all be run by timecode. It wouldn't be my preference to leave all of the key lighting up to a soundy or projectionist who has their own equipment to deal with, but that doesn't mean it couldn't work.

#### jxgriffi

##### Active Member
In the July issue of Live Design, KC Wilkerson said it is indeed 16 Robe BMFL Wash units integrated into a Blacktrax system.

As far as the rest of the control, the Hyperion uses an ETC Eos for conventionals and a GrandMa for movers/media.

#### porkchop

##### Well-Known Member
In the July issue of Live Design, KC Wilkerson said it is indeed 16 Robe BMFL Wash units integrated into a Blacktrax system.

As far as the rest of the control, the Hyperion uses an ETC Eos for conventionals and a GrandMa for movers/media.
I really thought the time of split consoles would go away after Vari-lite gave in and switched to DMX 512. I guess I'll just keep waiting.

#### hobbsies

##### Active Member
Na, take a look at the video again, Its not a a human operator. It jumps too much. Its probably the new version of the autopilot system, something like http://cast-soft.com/blacktrax.

Disney is not going to pay a followspot operator when technology can do it cheaper. They play the long game. They want shows to have the smallest daily operating costs possible while giving high production values. You can do that when you keep throwing money at the problem.
I just talked to my cousin who works as a full time lighting tech at disneyland and he said it was blacktrax.

The lighting console controls functions other than pan and tilt. That could be run by a human board op (probably the best choice, and still a large savings in labor) or depending on the budget and complexity of the show it could all be run by timecode. It wouldn't be my preference to leave all of the key lighting up to a soundy or projectionist who has their own equipment to deal with, but that doesn't mean it couldn't work.
It's mostly timecode.

Also little known fact i learned today, the firework show they do every night are launched with compressed air and each firework has a timecode chip in it that sets it off rather than a fuse.

#### SouthFloridaSFX

##### Member
It's blacktrax with an MA2.

#### porkchop

##### Well-Known Member
It's mostly timecode.
Perhaps I wasn't super clear. Timecode is merely a way to synchronize cues. The choice I was referring to is if there is a human sitting at the desk that's solely responsible for lighting or if the other stagehands in the room that have other show cues and systems to deal with are the ones left to handle any issues that come up with lighting.

#### Les

##### Well-Known Member
Also little known fact i learned today, the firework show they do every night are launched with compressed air and each firework has a timecode chip in it that sets it off rather than a fuse.
Yep, I work with a former Disney pyrotechnician. If I remember correctly, the compressed air is used to eliminate the smoke from the lift charge (to appease environmental regulations).

I hadn't heard much about chips in the shells, but I am familiar with the technology. For work in the field, simplicity reigns, and there are worries about timing as well (too early = bad, too late = bad. Randomly = even worse). Not that it's a known issue. People just get a little touchy about the idea of a device *in* the shell which has the potential to trigger it at any time.

#### pyrotechnician

##### Member
People just get a little touchy about the idea of a device *in* the shell which has the potential to trigger it at any time.
It's not just that people get touchy, in most countries, it is not legal to transport shells with ignitors installed. Considering the place where the ignitor has to go with these magicfire (http://www.magicfire.com) chips, inserting them on site would be considered manufacturing in most countries and usually comes with a whole lot of additional obligations (special permits, manufacturing facility...).

Another factor is cost. According to the magicfire homepage, a lot of 100 "low cost" ingnitors costs 750.00 $. This would be 7.50$ per ignitor, which is in a lot of cases more expensive than the shell that should be ignited. So, this is only sensible for large caliber shells or for special effects, but not for running a complete show this way.

#### hobbsies

##### Active Member
Another factor is cost. According to the magicfire homepage, a lot of 100 "low cost" ingnitors costs 750.00 $. This would be 7.50$ per ignitor, which is in a lot of cases more expensive than the shell that should be ignited. So, this is only sensible for large caliber shells or for special effects, but not for running a complete show this way.
That might explain why they're planning on cutting the fireworks (or significantly altering the show) in the near future. Because it's so damn expensive. But it's so damn cool too

#### Les

##### Well-Known Member
It's not just that people get touchy, in most countries, it is not legal to transport shells with ignitors installed.
This is true. By "people", I was including the DOT and ATF with fellow pyrotechnicians ;-).

Good point about cost as well. Disney has huge budgets, but the margin is a lot more slim for private, corporate, and municipal shows. With the safety implications as well as cost increases (which would be passed to the client), I wouldn't imagine this technology going "mainstream". Even if the cost were to go down, as you said, the transportation and handling aspect would be a hurdle difficult or impossible to overcome.