Musicians performing live on stage in front of a giant screen
Stage effects lift music productions
Control Techniques motion control creates modern and elaborate stage effects

Ed Sheeran, Rammstein, The Rolling Stones, Simply Red, Bon Jovi, Genesis, and ABBA... with a list of stars like this, you could be forgiven for thinking it is a line-up for one of the world’s biggest music festivals, but you’d be wrong. All these bands have another, quite unexpected link: WICREATIONS, world leaders and genuine innovators in the entertainment sector, from Belgium, provide the motion controlled screens, lighting, and other scenic elements of their stage effects.

Hans Willems, CEO of WICREATIONS, has watched this evolution from the front row seat: “Music concerts used to have two ‘goose bump moments’: one when the gig started and then the climax at the end. Often without much extra excitement in between. More and more light shows and moving images have been added over the years, but these technologies soon reached the limit of their capabilities. Now we have new options to keep the audience thoroughly entertained, in the form of automated moving structures. For example, we might use winching systems and linear motion to shift stage props around or move and rotate screens and lighting in all kinds of different directions – turning a show into a real journey of experiences, always going from one highlight to the next.” Control Techniques equipment has been at the heart of their solutions for nearly 20 years in an industry that is constantly advancing.

Unique experience

Top bands and their managers recognise that their audiences have high expectations of show performance throughout, which is why they hire in specialists to carefully choreograph their shows. 

“These designers come to us to develop the technical aspects of their ideas,” explains Willems. “All bands, of course, want to put on shows with exclusive elements, something that will appeal to and astound their audience, something that they’ve never seen before. We facilitate these creative ideas into technical reality, mainly using well-known techniques and technologies, such as electric motors, AC drives, linear guides and so on. It’s these links with the creative aspects that always make our systems unique. In other words, we’re an engineering company that almost always makes and uses our own prototypes. And that brings some very specific challenges with it.” 

Motor control model

For Control Techniques – represented by Nidec in the Benelux region – the collaboration with WICREATIONS provides a few special challenges. Sales Director at Control Techniques, Brend De Buyser explains: “Our equipment is stretched to its limits in this industry, in completely different applications to other industry sectors. Control Techniques, who are celebrating 50 years in business this year, are renowned for products that offer just that little bit more. For example, our controllers are well-known for their precise positioning and very fine motor controls. The motor control model in our controllers is perfect for applications such as those used by WICREATIONS, where the motor often needs to move slowly and with great accuracy.” 

Reliability is key

The WICREATIONS system controls are supplied by Control Techniques. “We’ve been using their controllers since our company opened in 2005,” says Willems. “I came across their equipment while looking for a high- quality supplier and we were quickly convinced by their benefits. They have a wide range of products which meet our needs perfectly, and a really good reputation in the entertainment and stage and scenery industry. They know exactly what we need, and they always anticipate and respond well whenever the required safety levels increase like they did a couple of years ago. Issues such as safe stop, safe speed and safe motion don’t just apply in this industry; they’re also being addressed more and more in our own safety standards. The IEC 17206 is full of SIL3 requirements, for example. Sometimes the standards even go so far that they impose things that aren’t even technically feasible yet. That’s when you need a supplier who can work with you to find a solution.”

Pushing the limits of possibilities

De Buyser mentions another piece of technology that WICREATIONS works with. “Digitax HD, an extremely compact and powerful servo drive with onboard Ethernet, which can control both servo motors and synchronous motors in a closed or open loop.” “Make no mistake: what WICREATIONS does is brilliant,” explains De Buyser. “If they come to us with a technical question, we know straight away they will be asking us something very specific and challenging. WICREATIONS is always looking to push the limits of the AC drive’s possibilities, and we always feed the information we get from them back to our product developers. Our technical support team is very solid and well-developed, and we work together, with our clients, to find a suitable solution”

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