Cirque du Soleil uses cutting-edge technology in TORUK – The First Flight

Toruk. (CBS42/Mark Hendren)

CHICAGO, Ill. (WIAT) – Cirque du Soleil’s newest touring show combines the amazing physical feats that the company is known, but this time, they have added new high-tech elements.

For TORUK- The First Flight, animation in projected onto the floor turning the arena into a living canvas that constantly changes throughout the show.

“The whole ice and half of the lower bowl is projection during the show,” said video crew chief, Sebastien Cousineau. “There are forty projectors making one big image. So basically we 3-D scanned most of the stage, and then we made an object out of it, and then we imported them into the software.”

This technology allows for the illusion of flowing waterfalls, that later are solid trees, then starts twinkling in the night sky. It all starts out as a solid gray background that has to be specially set every week.

“We re-focus everything in every city. And we re-calibrate the entire (arena) in 3D at every venue,” Cousineau said.

The TORUK cast knows that the show-must-go-on if anything was to malfunction. But the crew works hard to create insurance that nothing happens to the projected set. “Everything is doubled or tripled, for two reasons. One, if one (projector) stops, it doesn’t show as much. And the second is (the projectors are) cross shooting so there’s no shadow showing.”

The beautiful set would be nothing without the intricate costumes worn by the Navi. TORUK travels in 27 trucks with a complete set of backup costumes for every character and a full sewing department. The entire costume department can be broken down and packed up in 40-minutes.

“Once a week we are traveling to a new city. So we try to have everything super organized, and it’s really easy for us to get everything ready to go,” said the head of wardrobe, Rosa Espinoza.

“We have four different shades of blue (skin for the Navi people). Because the designers thought that as humans, we have different skin colors, so the Navi should have different skin colors too,” Espinoza said.

The Navi also have long tails – something the actors say is a challenge.

“(The tails) are hard to get used to. Especially because sometimes (the costume department will) touch up the hair because it gets caught in things, it gets stepped on, and you just forget that you’re wearing it,” said Daniel Crispin, who plays principal character Entu .

The tails are not a problem for Giulia Piolanti who plays principal character, Tsyal.

“I’m obsessed with cats, so as soon as they gave me a tail, I was the happiest woman on earth,” said Piolanti.

You can see all of the magic of Cirque du Soleil’s TORUK-The First Flight at the BJCC August 19-21. Click here to order your tickets.

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