Wings of Time: Asia Leads the Way in Live Show Design
Posted by Elizabeth Alton on Monday, March 23rd, 2015
Some of the most innovative live show design today is happening in Asia. One show in particular is being recognized this year as an outstanding example of the latest in storytelling, cinematic effects, and overall presentation. The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) recognized Wings of Time with a THEA Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Event Spectacular category. The THEA judges described the show as a “visual and theatrical experience creation on a very high level.”
Wings of Time is the world’s only permanent night show that is set in the open ocean. It blends a contemporary storyline with cutting-edge technology and theatrical effects. The show was created by ECA2, which was commissioned by the Sentosa Development Corporation to develop the event spectacular which is housed on Sentosa Island’s Siloso Beach.
Sentosa Island is a resort island in Singapore, and is home to several hotels and attractions, including Universal Studios Singapore. Sentosa previously produced the award-winning show, Songs of the Sea. The Songs of the Sea production had been active for seven years and had been seen by millions of visitors. Sentosa decided that it was time for a change, and wanted to offer something fresh and innovative to its guests.
Wings of Time is a 20 minute show that is performed in a 3000 seat theater, with the open sea as a backdrop. It incorporates a giant water screen, video mapping, lasers, lighting effects, an original soundtrack, pyrotechnics, water features that include robotic fountains and giant jets, and even flames. It launched in June 2014. Since Sentosa wanted to minimize downtime, the stage construction and all other aspects of the show’s onsite creation came together in a record breaking six weeks.
It’s easy to get caught up in the technology and theatrics that make this multi-sensory show stand out; but it’s not just about the effects. The show has a guiding storyline, with friendship and journeys as the central themes. The show takes advantage of exotic and changing landscapes to help create a dramatic experience. Guests move through time and space to explore a wide range of locales, and the main characters visit each of the continents.
As the show synopsis describes, “The adventure begins with Shahbaz, a pre-historic bird-like creature. Together with his friends, Rachel and Felix, they travel across beautiful landscapes and the mysteries of time. Their journey brings them through artistic interpretations of the British Industrialization Revolution, the Silk Road era, Mayan Pyramids, Underwater World and African Savanna. His friends discover more about themselves – they find the courage to be more than who they think they were.”
In a previous interview Wings of Time artistic director Moira Smith said, “It’s a story that appeals to all ages. A tale of friendship, courage and adventure as our hero travels on a fantastic homecoming journey. We designed the show as a fantastic travel that would take the characters and audience through time and space.”
The two main characters are projections and the show features minimal dialogue, to help eliminate language barriers for Sentosa’s international guests. Seven actors participate in a pre-show where they stage a musical rehearsal designed to connect the audiences with the characters and get things underway. The pre-show features both music and audience participation. Once the show gets started, technology takes the lead.
The technological foundations that it takes to bring Wings to Time to life include a giant water screen; water jets with the unique capability to move 360 degrees on two axes; a host of lasers and lights; a Medialion show control system; geysers; mist machines; and more. To add some additional challenges to the mix, the theater’s location on the beach means that the sets and equipment are constantly being bombarded with waves, salt air, and mist, making the maintenance and upkeep increasingly complex.
For other designers in the field, Wings of Time offers several lessons. The show is an extravaganza on a grand scale, targeting audiences with thousands of people. It doesn’t rely on any one aspect for success: instead, it appeals to visitors on multiple levels. Guests can enjoy the music, the visuals, or follow the deeper story – depending on their individual preferences. While the show offers some of the latest technologies, its creators also recognized the importance of story to draw audiences in and keep them mesmerized. While Songs of the Sea was widely deemed to be a category leading show, it’s fair to say the team behind Wings of Time has managed to outdo itself. If you’re looking for an example of a world-class multimedia extravaganza, look no further than the TEA’s latest honoree.
Images sourced courtesy of Wings of Time/Sentosa Development Corporation