MSA designs new M:CAT touring flying runway product for Suspekt show

Motor Stage Automation (MSA) is a company that loves challenges! So Christian Vigsø and his team were delighted to be asked to design a bespoke flying runway solution for a recent massive show by popular Danish hip hop phenom Suspekt, for their only live appearance this year – at Parken stadium in Copenhagen.

Photo: Simone Ellebaek

In the process, MSA devised a new modular quick assembly touring product – M:CAT – which is now available exclusively from MSA, a fresh and innovative Danish enterprise working internationally and specialising in the art of designing and delivering stage and show automation and movement elements.

Christian was initially approached by Suspekt’s lighting designer and set designer Johnny Thinggaard and their production manager and show director Jonas Friis, who wanted a flying 45 metre walkway to enable the band to traverse between the Main and B stages throughout the carefully choreographed performance.

They also wanted to stage a cool ‘surprise’ opening with the band on the B-stage in the middle of their fans – with the runway nowhere in sight, and no obvious route for them to get to the main stage!

With VIGSØ Dryhire already confirmed as the event’s lighting supplier via project and crew management specialist 4K Projects, MSA – part of the Generator Group – also presented the best solution for the show’s required automation engineering.

The company has dealt with flying catwalks many times before, explained MSA project manager Jimmy Jonhson, however up to this point, there has not been a safe, easily deployable, off-the-shelf, manufactured product available to straightforwardly achieve the goal.

VIGSØ & MSA – both part of the Generator Group – decided that this was the time to change that!

Foto: Flemming Bo Jensen

Collaborating with German partners HOF Alutec, M:CAT – a new fully customisable, foldable-and-stackable flying catwalk system based on standard trussing infrastructure and perfect for touring – was born!

Dennis Klostermann, co-CEO of HOF noted, “As always, it was very exciting to be working with Christian again. He often comes to us with offbeat and interesting projects which are out of ‘normality’ and these usually require quick thinking solutions and rapid development!”

He continues, that with the basic idea from Christian already very clear, the task presented no “major challenges,” however the connection system between the different catwalk elements was a “small” brain teaser.

Normally trusses have a maximum of 4 connection points, and some manufacturers still struggle to make this a perfect fit, but M:CAT has 8 connection points which must fit simultaneously, so HOF had to produce low tolerance parts to make joining the sections straightforward and painless.

M:CAT comprises 3-metre-long, 2-metre-wide sections of modular catwalk for maximum flexibility. Corner sections are available for creating multiple shapes – circles and triangles can also be added as required – and the 8-way fast-click pin-based trussing connection system is robust and requires only a hammer to assemble!

A load capacity of 250kg per square metre with a free hanging span of 6 metres between the hanging points has been calculated with dynamic forces considered.
Sections are stacked on a dolly complete with click on handrails and can be wheeled straight into the venue or the back of the truck!

Photo: Peter Kayser

It’s extremely fast to rig and lightweight but able to support substantial loads. It is also safe to fly above people and connects seamlessly to MSA’s automation control systems and any of the industry standard hoist systems.

For a super-fast load in at Parken, all the hoists were mounted in HOF MLT Two trusses which were rolled into the venue simultaneously for positioning and to get the structure into the air quickly and efficiently.

Custom lifting brackets were fabricated to align with MSA’s automation system, in this case powered by 22 x 500kg Kinesys Apex vari-speed hoists which can run at speeds up to 30 metres-a-minute, connected to a Kinesys Mentor4 safety controller, lifting – in this instance – a total weight of 3.5 tonnes to millimetre precision.

The automation system was rigged on a ‘Mothergrid’ installed into Parken’s roof for the gig constructed from HOF MLT Two truss, a pre-rigged product which is very flexible with a high load capacity. It was flown using 2 tonne Chainmaster D8+ hoists, and the catwalk was trimmed at 23 metres, so it completely disappeared into the roof when not in use, in true theatrical style.

Attached to its underside were 60 x DVT-Light PJ-5 LED wash luminaires, easily accommodated as the base is made from trussing elements. This also enabled some cool visual trickery for the Suspekt show, as when it first started descending, everyone thought it was just a moving truss and part of the lighting rig, rather than transport for the band! As you can imagine, this dramatic stagecraft received roars of appreciation from the fans!

Photo: MSA

Johnny skilfully wove the runway’s movement into the show narrative. It came in several times throughout the set – each time styling the drama of the moment differently with lighting and movement speed variations. Having this elegant access to the B stage was a great asset to the flow of the show and enabled the band to get close to the audience which everyone loved.

It was used as one linear track for the Suspekt show, but Jimmy notes the huge potential for creating shapes with M:CAT – from Us and Vs to zig-zags – the possibilities are all there to be imagined!

The 45-metre system used for the Suspekt show fitted expediently into one 40ft artic.


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