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The great outdoors: a first for Star Events at Live Earth Shanghai

Around 3,000 people attended the event, with estimated television audiences of 800 million in China and two billion worldwide.

A 15m Orbit Flexidome was chosen as the appropriate stage system, as the site has a shopping mall beneath and no other structure could provide the rigging capacity combined with low self weight and point loads. Working on the roof of the shopping mall also meant the use of any cranes, pickers or forklifts was not allowed, so the whole system had to be hand built and rigged.

In line with the event’s ethos, only 15% of the equipment was shipped from the UK and this by sea, which is carbon-footprint friendly. The rest was manufactured in China and assembled at SEGL’s new warehouse in Shanghai. All equipment is remaining in China and has already been booked for other shows in 2007.

In addition to SEGL’s local staff, four crew were sent from the UK to train the local crew, with Bob Fennell as crew chief and SEGL’s development director Roger Barrett as project manager. Barrett comments: “We knew in advance that July is the height of the rainy season and we built the stage in weather conditions that ranged from continuous driving rain to really uncomfortable heat, reaching 410C at 80% humidity.

“We had huge thunderstorms during sound checks and the show, but the stage remained totally dry throughout.” Despite the testing conditions, full UK safety standards were maintained, with all local crew in hi-viz and hard hats and climbers in UK sourced harnesses.

The video and PA flying facilities had to be based on what Roger described as “good old fashioned scaffold towers” partly due to the lack of plant and partly to spread the loads applied to the shopping mall roof.

In similar fashion, the front of house tower for sound, lights, television and a presenter area had to be above the 14m (46′) height of the centre seating grandstand and at the same time had to bridge the main audience entrance. Consequently this turned into a structure 22m (72′) high, which is much bigger than usual for the size of the event.

“We have all been really impressed with the local crew,” says Roger. “There are some excellent scaffolders amongst them and their ability to grasp what needs doing very quickly is on a par with anywhere, including the UK. We’re not sure they fully understand the English sense of humour yet, though!”