Fête des Vignerons, 2019 — Project progress

An “intangible cultural heritage” (as recognized by UNESCO)

Once a generation since 1797 on the ‘Place du Marché’ in Vevey. Most recent: 1955, 1977, 1999, & 2019

Complete history on the site of the Confrérie des Vignerons.

Arena Vevey

. . . a 20,000 seat stadium constructed for
20 performances. 5500 voluntary ‘figurants’
for whom the costume budget is CHF12m
Total budget is close to CHF 100m, about double that of 1999. It is known that the project has ended with a serious financial deficit, but let’s not lose track of the magnificent accomplishments of this gigantic undertaking; and to the incredible heart & soul investment of thousands of unpaid actors, musicians, choristers, and other volunteers. Photo: © luca-carmagnola/Fête-des-Vignerons

Goal of this project is creation of a documentary about the technology of the arena  — its construction, installation, and dis-assembly over the period from October 2018 to end of 2019.

Progress is being shared along the way – as separate segments or partially integrated parts. Join us on this journey!

TIMELINE – click for larger version, click again for even larger image.


Professional video capture: :

1. Camera on overhead cables, maneuverable like a drone in 3D – like a Spidercam, the one used here is by “XDmotion“.
2. Fast walking with Stedicam camera.
3. Stedicam again – but riding a Segway ! We can see how these shots are used so effectively to provide incredible fluidity of movement with excellent stability.
4. Static (tripod-mounted).
5. For some performances there was also a drone in operation (clear on the TV production).

We can view the very best results with the public offering of DVD and blue-ray products using this really serious arsenal of cameras. Yet, however good the video images, we believe it will be difficult to re-create the ambience of being there. It appears that the biggest open discussion between those having seen the show (and some who have not!) is on the merits of daytime versus evening experiences. The resulting disc packages contain both!

The audio system is by Meyer Sound – main (black) speakers suspended from the eight 30-meter-high masts – with (white) proximity loudspeakers throughout the arena as well – 400 of them in total:

After the show is over, the whole arena must be dismantled before mid-October to allow the circus to come again (exception is the wooden construction over the lake and the removal of the 260 wooden piles which support it). Here is just one element of the deconstruction – the eight 30 meter high sound masts.

and the arena was cleared just on schedule even if four sound mast tower tops remained to greet the incoming circus!

The above circus photo was October, by the end of the video below we are in December – the wooden structure and its platform over the lake is disappearing steadily, revealing the wooden piles which will have been removed as planned before the year end.

It is now more than one year since those piles were placed and major earth works of the arena “basement” were dug for housing the main stage central ramp (November 2018). It was not evident how there was sufficient space for “Les Cent-Suisses” soldiers to appear during the show from below the floor of the arena when the stage height above the ‘Grande Place’ was no more than the height of a man.*  It turns out that the effect was possible only by creating a deep pit into which the 20 meter long ramp could descend. The construction is as impressive as the daring investment decision to make this and other significant parts of the arena possible!



[Even though the ground has a 2% slope which gives 1m of extra available below stage height at the south end compared to the north end of the 50m long stage area.]
Photo during construction shows shallow north end stage floor clearance; in the distance is the south end, showing position of the ramp. Photo: alexandre_buttler_epfl


Photo below from the south end of the LED floor during our arena visit; ramp lowering.



Our photo above, taken during deconstruction, shows part of the the concrete pit and the “hinge” end of the 20m long and 4 meter-wide ramp. The ramp in its raised position must hold the weight of many performers as well as vehicles – it also carries part of the LED floor, continuing to display as it descends and rises. In the raised position it is difficult to see any tell-tale gap; precision of positioning of the ramp is to the millimeter – amazing for such a large and heavy structure.
View below shows the ramp girder also from the “hinge” end, looking into the south (lake) end of the arena. The ramp here looks short and stubby because of the telephoto effect (taken from the north end of the site), but indeed is the 20 meter long girder.



Photo below shows part of the center section.

Image after the girder had been removed – just the “pit”remaining visble:

One aid to our documentary video will be a fully working 1:30 scale model of the arena ramp – this key raising and lowering element of the arena main stage will be integrated into our production to show its construction and operation. Photo shoot coming shortly !