Moscow State University: animated and conquered

This Sunday, Moscow will mark its 864th birthday with a new mayor and a whole range of celebrations including a huge light and laser show on Sparrow Hills at Moscow State University.

­More than 220 million roubles have gone towards funding the big day which will be filled with more than 700 entertaining events.

The city center will be closed from morning until night. And although the weather forecast promises rain and cold, the city’s mayor has set aside 150 million roubles to pay for 10 planes to take to the skies and spray the magic dust that clears the clouds. Clear skies are critical to the success of the event, as the evening will culminate in a grand laser show over Moscow State University.

Instead of a birthday cake lit with candles, Moscow will get a whole building pulsing with light. The university will be transformed into a 25,500-square-meter projection area complete with 81 projectors and 40 light guns hitting the sky for over a kilometer.

That is where Australian David Atkins and his live event production company come in.

Atkins travels the world creating ceremonies for major events. And this September, he aims to get his Moscow light show into the Guinness book of world records.

“The technology has been advancing so rapidly and it’s really the result of the film industry. CGI is daily just transforming. People are finding new ways – the ability to render things quickly, to create real world situations in three dimensional reality within a computer. Almost everything you are seeing in this show has been generated inside a computer with animators, illustrators, story board artists actually creating that three-dimensional world,” Atkins explained to RT.

The show comes complete with a single actor – the man known as “the French Spider Man” – Alain Robert, famous for climbing, illegally, some of the tallest buildings in the world with no harness.

For this show, though, he will wear one along with an earpiece to communicate with the show’s controllers so that he hits all his marks on time.

“I have to be safe because I can’t focus on the story and focus on climbing, especially at night. And maybe it will rain! But I hear that here they can do a kind of miracle, right, with the rain, clearing the clouds?” said Alain.

The VIP area will have bubbles, flames, smoke, snow and balloons. Atkins says transforming an active university is no easy task.

“It’s been a challenge coming into a completely new environment. Everything is done through translation and that is a challenge in itself. But I have to say there is a very great attitude of getting things done here. Sometimes it feels like it’s not going to happen…and then it happens! So you’ve just got to have faith,” he laughed.

Dependable students will be stationed on each floor to make sure the indoor lights stay switched off.

“But we’ve got back-up generators on site just in case. Absolutely,” Atkins assured RT.

But there is no telling what tricks the French Spider Man has up his sleeve. He’s already been arrested once in Russia for illegal climbing.

“I’m not planning to disturb anyone’s peace! I did it once for fun, it was nice. The Commissioner was very cool. I got a few shots of vodka; very nice guy. He was amazed to see me in his police station. I was treated like a good friend except that he couldn’t speak English. It was amazing,” Alain confessed.

He points to the fact that he doesn’t have enough time on his visa to do an illegal climb this time around. So he will behave for this show – or so he says…

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