Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Video Wall Erection, Kitzbühel Style

"Just like back in Saigon! Eh, Slick?"

-Special Agent Johnson, Die Hard

People frequently tell me I lead an exotic life. To me, one of the coolest things about doing what I do is getting the chance to watch other guys with other, equally exotic skillsets doing their thing, in their element.

And I'm not talking about the athletes. When I get home from a gig, I rarely can remember who won. I rarely watch the field of play. I'm too busy concentrating on keeping the 1's and 0's flowing smoothly and in the correct order.

Ski races are the most difficult sports production environment I've ever seen. The course is about 5000 meters long, and the change in vertical elevation between start and finish is about 3000 feet. Its usually cold (except at Whistler) and frequently snowing. Deploying almost anything, almost anywhere on the course, is a logistical cast-iron bitch. The guys who work for me are all shit-hot skiers, and they all work themselves half to death. At the end of a ski gig, we are all completely bricked.

It's a challenge. And of course, Kitzbühel, being the biggest, baddest of them all, is the biggest challenge.

Today was one of those times when I stood gob-smacked by the skills of others.

The KSC arranged for their helicopter contractor, WUCHER, to sling our video wall in 5 pieces up onto a scaffolding in the slalom arena. Normally it would take 5 or 6 guys all day to get the modules up on the hill and assemble them in place. WUCHER did it in 21 minutes. That included 5 round-trips from a freight yard over in Kirchberg, the next town down the train line from Kitz, where we assembled the sub-assemblies.

I'm not sure who was more impressive, the load-master or the pilot. The load-master can take a look at a piece of freight, walk around it a few times, and make a 100% reliable, life-or-death, go/no go decision as to whether then thing can be lifted up and set into place. The pilot was simply awesome. If you were laying out in a lawn chair, this guy could pop a piece of chocolate tied to the end of a 100-foot-long chain into your mouth without touching your lips. I exaggerate not.

Unfortunately, a lot of these photos are pretty sucky because I was actively involved in the process, and the frantic pace of doing a day's work in 21 minutes left little time to get my camera ready.

There is video as well.


READY. The first sub-assembly stands ready over in Kirchberg.


Here comes the extremely bad-ass pilot.

The guy in the orange is the load-master. He's also one extremely bad-ass motherf......

In this business, nobody gets an "oops".

Later, dude! See you in 4 minutes!

Meanwhile, on the receiving end......

(photos courtesy of Michael Walker Photography)

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