Brian May's Stage Lift 'Panic' Button
Brian’s Stage Lift ‘Panic Button’
So, a while ago, the production team decided it would look great if they strapped Brian to a scissor lift and raise him many metres in the air whilst artistically placing him atop a moving image of an asteroid or some other item of enormity.
This was a fantastic spectacle for the audience, but had some inherent issues that needed some design solutions in order to mitigate them. The main issue being what would happen if Brian needed to get down quickly? If say his guitar stopped working, or he broke a string, or worse still, he didn’t feel good up there! He needed a way to communicate with the lift operators on the ground (actually under the stage, so they couldn’t even see him!) to signal to them that he needed to get back down quickly. The other problem was that we couldn’t run cables as the lift system had been designed around the stage as was and there was no room in the mechanism for cable drums of any form, so we had to go wireless.
The problem, however, wasn’t really understood until full rehearsals took place and that meant we had just a few days to come up with a suitable solution.
That solution was this this little system, which comprised of a small foot operated RF transmitter/receiver unit that sat on the top of the lift with Brian and a second transmitter/receiver signaling unit that sat under the stage.
I designed it as a dual RF transmitter/receiver unit so ensure that if Brian did activate the unit, it would send an initial signal to the under-stage unit, that would then flash a bright Led down-arrow to signify he wanted to come down. The under-stage signal box would then send an acknowledgement signal back up to Brian’s unit that then illuminates his down arrow. This means that when Brian sees his arrow illuminated he immediately knows the operators unit has also illuminated as there is no other way to let him know that he’s on his way down.