San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, the home of both the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Ballet, needed an extensive backstage upgrade to become a fully automated venue. The further challenge of the brief was that the refit of the system could not disrupt any performances or rehearsals taking place at the venue. Stage Technologies answered the challenge by sequencing the whole install over four phases and several years, fitting it in between the Opera and Ballet’s seasons. No performances were affected by the work being carried out during installation and system commissioning. The control infrastructure was designed at the outset to allow for the easy integration of subsequent phases of work.
Phase One consisted of a structural engineering review of existing system and building infrastructure. This was a feasibility study to consider and plan the full automation of the House. Phase Two focused on the house curtain and existing lighting bridges. Stage Technologies installed seven BT290 winches to control the curtain as well as 14 demountable point hoists, drives and control, and point hoists.
Phase Three saw the installation of 17 winches to move the Cyclorama and sweep battens onto the automated system plus a full cleanup of the grid that allowed more comprehensive coverage of the stage by the existing point hoists. In Phase Four, Stage Technologies installed 63 counterweight assist winches and a permanent rack for point hoists and the installation of an additional 10 point hoists for a total of 24 on the rack. The counterweight assist winches can be quickly decoupled from the arbor allowing the battens to be moved manually as required. Every rigged element in the Opera house is now automated.
The installation included: