Technology of Cirque du Soleil KA at MGM Grand Las Vegas: Part 2 of 2

KA by Cirque du Soleil is Las Vegas’ most technically advanced stage production. No small order in a city known for many of the world’s most innovative and technically sophisticated shows.

Although there are about 80 performers in the show, there are even more people behind the scenes at KA in roles that vary from computer “dead switch” operators who will stop the show in the event of danger or malfunction (both very rare) to the “cork ranglers” who manage the tons of chopped natural cork that form the “sand” on the huge rotating stage.

As with all the Cirque shows, KA is remarkable in creating the appearance of death defying leaps, dives, and spectacular aerial performances. KA adds to this fireballs, archery battles, hand combat on a stage rotating in the air, and more. All this happens while an army of invisible support staff maintain an extremely high standard of safety for both performers and the audience.

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HOLGER FÖRTERER is KA’s Interactive projections designer.    Unlike usual light work,  KÀ dancers and acrobats do not control what happens to the projection through their own movements.  KA’s scenery can actually react to the performers.

This creates very realistic illusions – such as falling underwater with a trail of bubbles – that play out in real time as the performers interact with the computerized part of KA’s world.

This innovation happens using infrared cameras which help track the performers and feed that data to computers in the control room pictured above.   This integrates with a remarkable system that maps the massive rotating stage, effectively turning the KA stage into an massive touch-screen that knows the precise position of each actor, dancer and acrobat.

“In essence, what we have is an intelligent set,” said Förterer in an earlier interview. “And everything the audience sees is created by the computer.”

Stay tuned for Technology Report’s live  CES 2011 coverage, starting with our “Pre-CES” specials in November.

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