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 just over 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

Rise and fall of the Vevey arena – a documentary

Technology of the Vevey arena  and its construction, installation, and dis-assembly — October 2018 to end of 2019.   Join us as we share our development.

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.

the main arena area was cleared on schedule,  just four sound mast tower tops remaining to greet the incoming circus!  Photos from October 2019.

Video below ends in December – the wooden structure and its platform over the lake is disappearing steadily, revealing the wooden piles which were removed as planned before the year end.

So the cycle has taken 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 could be sufficient space for “Les Cent-Suisses” soldiers to appear during the show from below the stage when its above ground level starts out at no more than the height of a man.*  In fact the effect has been 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 equally bold features of the arena.



In addition, position of the ramp takes advantage of a 2% slope down towards the lake, providing 1m of extra available headroom 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


Next is a look beneath the stage, and also out beyond the end of the ramp.

One aid to our documentary video is a fully working 1:30 scale model of the arena ramp – a true “rise and fall” element of the arena main stage. Here is a first integration of the model: view from the south end of the LED floor.



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.DSC05656FACE2crop4

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

Now that the working scale model of the arena ramp is completed, we should have some creative moments of integrating it into our documentary. View from the north end of the LED floor, towards the south.

Top view of the LED floor model — minor imperfections may be compensated by video editing and care with camera angles. The scale of our model is 1:30, so the 45 meter LED floor is 150 cm – a part of the stage, in white, is in addition – a small section of the stage descends with the ramp – as in the prototype.

Our model fits perfectly into this magnificent view of the entire arena – some video fun on the central LED stage.

One more cool clip to develop a few more seconds of our documentary – the cool jazz is by the group “Quantact” – see the jazz page of this site for more.

Rising staircase:

Next venture in model integration with video within the Vevey Arena documentary.
We could call this “next steps” because it will involve 40 steps of the rising staircase. There are two of these, one at the north and another at the south ends, below the level of the upper stages. We will build one, and is a major model undertaking. Because of the complexity of this project and the amount of material we want to present, we will be separating out the model building into more easily-followed pages. However, for the moment here is the first introduction to building and integrating the rising staircase:



Each staircase comprises three sections:
– a fixed stair which flanks the moving sections on either side
– a lower stair section which can open on its own
– an upper stair section which can open, carrying the lower section with it to create a large total opening. This is a heavy construction, no actors are on the moving part when it is raised up.


Small steps towards big stairs: (scale 1:30 as for the ramp model)



Progress on the 1:30 scale stairway model — two supporting girder structures: