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***The live blog is now over. Read below to see the discussion during the show!***

We may not fix the sins, but we’ll fix the city! 
We’re here with Sean Riley, now blogging live until 10P et for the World’s Toughest Fixes premiere episode of “Fixing Vegas.”

He’s sharing his commentary on moments throughout the show, and is available to answer your questions.


NGC Community Moderator Asks:

What was your favorite part of the Ka performance?

Riley Answers:

The show is a complete blast to see, but my favorite part is the backstage dance that the riggers and technicians do to pull it off every night. I always prefer the view from backstage.

NGC Community Moderator Asks:

Was running up the wall very physically tiring?

Riley Answers:

It’s exhausting, keeping yourself perpendicular to the wall takes loads of core strength. Thats why the performers train so hard for so long to be able to do this act.

NGC Community Moderator Asks:

Had you ever controlled your own vertical movement in a harness before?

Riley Answers:

That is a very unique system, and while I have moved vertically and horizontally in harness pretty often, it’s not everyday you get to wear a remote control for a high speed winch on your back, pretty cool.

NGC Community Moderator Asks:

Would you feel safe as a Cirque du Soleil performer?

Riley Answers:

Absolutely.

NGC Community Moderator Asks:

What kinds of safety precautions are used to protect the performers?

Riley Answers:

The safety of the performers is absolutely the priority for everyone involved. Every rigging system is designed with redundancies and fail-safes built in to prevent accidents.

shabbychic Asks:

Hi Riley! What’d you want to be when you were a kid? I bet you never dreamed you be doing this!

Riley Answers:

No I never dreamed of doing this even a few years ago. I just always wanted to know how everything everywhere works!

NGC_Laura Asks:

Hi Riley! Do you know if KA is still being performed or technically supported by the engineers the same way it was from its first inception, or have any particular parts been adapted and perfected over time? I’m thinking about things like the cork-cleaning process, etc.

Riley Answers:

In the beginning the production was making everything up, and they told me there were many generations of improvments. But with two shows every night for years, most of the kinks have been worked out and the show has settled down into a running rhythm. However, in addition to regular maintence, they do continue to tweak the tech wherever they can to make the show safer, faster, easier. Yes, the cork cleaning is still a developing process, got any ideas?

NGC Community Moderator Asks:

Can you tell us about another experience you had working with circus equipment? Did it prepare you at all for this job?

Riley Answers:

I’ve designed rigging systems for many circuses as well as other clients over the years, so I’m pretty familiar with that world and how it works. Working with any circus is always challenging and never boring.

NGC Community Moderator Asks:

What kind of shows do they play on the giant screen? Did you get to spend any time watching one?

Riley Answers:

Because the screen is like no other, the shows have to be specially prepared to work there. Mostly they are loud computerized music video-style assaults on the senses. Each show is 5-10 minutes long, and over the course of filming there for an evening we had to watch one over and over again.

NGC Community Moderator Asks:

Was it hard to breathe at all in the airbag? Can you describe what it felt like in there? Was it absolutely pitch black without the flashlight?

Riley Answers:

Although the airbag is pressurized in order to stay inflated, it’s relatively low pressure and not hard to breathe in, but it is pitch black inside, and easy to get lost in the many different sections or “cells.” Once you are inside, every cell looks the same, so you have to remember how you got in, in order to find your way out.

rig82465 Asks:

Hey Riley I just wanted to say I love your show there is nothing else like it out there. I myself and a theatre lighting and rigging personal. How much lighting do you know and how much was at Cirque? Thanks for the time and stay safe man!

Henry

Riley Answers:

Henry, thanks for writing in. The crew and I work really hard making the show and it’s nice hear that people enjoy it. I do know theatrical lighting pretty well, I speak DMX,which will only mean somthing to you and me and a handful of other geeks. The amazing thing to me about the KA design was the overwhelming dominance of conventionals.  There are only 12 or 15 movers in the whole show, while they use somthing like 300 parcans 1k 64’s.  For such a high-tech show, I thought it was cool how much they achieve with basic common fixtures. Plus it’s a real challenge to light for a stage that keeps moving around, think about that!

NGC Community Moderator Asks:

Have you ever seen anything like that cork-cleaning machine?

Riley Answers:

Like many of the equipment at Ka, the cork-cleaning machine is one of kind. Mostly because it’s a solution to a problem no one else has, keeping tons of granulated cork clean and humidified. But it’s basically built out of off-the-shelf processing equipment from different industries.

NGC Community Moderator Asks:

Did you ever find out what happened to the missing seal? Did it just wear down until it was gone?

Riley Answers:

The seal was not missing, when we opened up the cylinder we immediately found the broken pieces of the failed seal. The seal was still in place, just leaking badly and not doing its job of isolating the pressurized hydraulic fluid.

NGC Community Moderator Asks:

Did you find out if the oarsman cannons ever get damaged by leaking water, or are they completely watertight?

Riley Answers:

They need to stay completely watertight for the electronics inside to continue operating. If one does leak, it stops working and is immediately swapped out by the maintenance crew.

NGC Community Moderator Asks:

How cold was the water in the fountain? Was it clean? Were there a lot of coins when you went into it?

Riley Answers:

The Bellagio fountains are basically a giant swimming pool, not too cold, just cool and refreshing in the Vegas heat. There were loads of coins on the bottom, the swimming crew periodically cleans them up and donates all the “wishes” to charity.

NGC Community Moderator Asks:

How fun was it jumping around on that net?!

Riley Answers:

The tensioned safety nets are there to safe the performers life if something goes wrong, but they can also be a lot of fun bouncing around. Still, I wouldn’t want to fall into one from 60 feet.

NGC Community Moderator Asks:

What was it like watching the show from backstage and seeing all the work that went into it? Were you impressed?

Riley Answers:

Getting to see the show from backstage was a real treat, and for me a bit like going home. That’s the side of theater I’m more familiar with from my own working career, i have always enjoyed seeing the mechanics behind the magic.


NGC Community Moderator Asks:

Was this the first time you had been to Vegas?

Riley Answers:

NO, I’ve worked in Vegas many times before, generally about once or twice a year. I’ve even been there a few times not for work, and that’s all I’m saying.

OutsideTheBox1 Asks:

Hi Riley,

I’ve seen Ka and O in Vegas and I was blown away by the enormity of both productions. It’s hard to describe Ka and its stages to anyone who hasn’t seen the show!

But I’m just an average audience member, so here’s my question: when you got to look at the Cirque stage up-close, was there anything about the set-up that impressed or surprised you from your perspective as a seasoned professional?

Thanks!

Riley Answers:

Everything about those shows is impressive, even as one who has “seen it all.” The shows are fantastic, I agree, but the technology backstage that no one ever sees is just as fantastic. That’s one of the great parts of tonight’s show, the chance to get a peek behind the curtain to see how the magic happens. Even with all the technology, the most impressive part of the show to me are the people, the performers and the stage hands do incredible work at an unbelievable pace, and they pull it off flawlessly over and over every night. My hats off to the entire crew!

boothby171 Asks:

I was just wondering what it was that was being “fixed” with the Sand Cliff Deck? Structural? Mechanical? Electrical? Electronics? Hydraulics?

Riley Answers:

The focus of the fix are the hydraulics, specifically the actuating cylinders under the sand cliff deck that control the “tilt” function. The stage was beginning to behave strangely and the staff felt pretty sure that’s where the problem was, so that’s where we started dismantling. It’ll all be explained tonight on the show. Thanks for watching!

NGC Community Moderator Asks:

Does Cirque du Soilel have any other stages as complex and advanced as the sand cliff deck? Have you ever worked on a stage like it before?

Riley Answers:

Nobody in the world has a stage like this, it’s one of a kind, and nobody anywhere has tried this operation before, including the people who built it.

Comments

  1. rig82465
    May 21, 2010, 1:14 am

    Hey Riley I just wanted to say I love your show there is nothing else like it out there. I myself and a theatre lighting and rigging personal. How much lighting do you know and how much was at Cirque? Thanks for the time and stay safe man!

    Henry

  2. NGC_Laura
    May 21, 2010, 1:27 am

    That last ping during the piston un-tightening was a "D", about 300 Hertz.

  3. oldtimer
    May 21, 2010, 1:28 am

    Corkmaster!!!! And he doesn’t even get to drink wine!

  4. NGC_Laura
    May 21, 2010, 1:33 am

    Hi Riley! Do you know if KA is still being performed or technically supported by the engineers the same way it was from its first inception, or have any particular parts been adapted and perfected over time? I’m thinking about things like the cork-cleaning process, etc.

  5. shabbychic
    May 21, 2010, 1:37 am

    Hi Riley! What’d you want to be when you were a kid? I bet you never dreamed you be doing this!

  6. bardsworld
    May 21, 2010, 1:39 am

    Brilliant episode of a great show Riley, but I’ve got to ask, was the airbag hazing the only incident that got pulled on you? I can’t believe you didn’t get soaked at the Bellagio fountain.

  7. stevew
    May 14, 2011, 4:38 am

    hey, wow i just found this show on Netflix, and I am addicted. i had to go through the hoops of registering on this site to say hi. this is a great show, and teaches me great respect for the many different people that do real world in our world, it gives me hope for the future, much better than any crap like Jersey Shore :)