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When nature meets high-end technology

With the rise in popularity of immersive experiences and events, innovation is becoming increasingly important in the development of new projects.  

This is precisely what the Atelier Occhio and Le Massif de Charlevoix teams have achieved with Le Vol de l’Oiseau mécanique, the world’s first nighttime mountainside carousel. The nearly 6-kilometer circular route allows participants to cross different scenes and enjoy an audiovisual, sensory, and emotional experience riding Le Massif‘s chairlift.  

A project of this magnitude required its share of cutting-edge equipment to honour the designers’ astonishing vision. That’s where the Solotech team comes in. 

Vol oiseau mécanique

Solotech's dual expertise serving unique projects

Considering the unique nature of the project and its location, the dual expertise of Solotech’s teams in live production and systems integration was very appealing for the deployment of a project like Le Vol de l’Oiseau mécanique.  

“The idea was to combine the two fields of activity to obtain a project that didn’t require a full technical team for each performance,” said Éric Gallant, Project Manager at Solotech, who began working on the project in April 2023. “In the end, only two technicians were on site for each performance to ensure everything ran smoothly and to quickly complete any necessary adjustments.” 

Between September 2022 and May 2023, the Solotech team collaborated closely with the designers to carry out extensive research and development. The right equipment and protection were identified to enhance the creative work of Atelier Occhio, made up of Stéphane Mongeau, Yves Aucoin, Martin Labrecque, and Olivier Kemeid, with the collaboration of Jacques Boucher. 

“We had to make the equipment live for over five months on the mountain with as little maintenance as possible, without impacting the high stability of the systems. For the most part, the equipment is not designed to withstand hostile weather conditions, so we had to be imaginative to protect all the equipment adequately.” 

Denys Deslauriers, Account Manager for Solotech

Vol oiseau mécanique

Working in the mountains: a challenge worthy of our team

Our technicians have extensive experience deploying technically complex immersive projects and know how to overcome obstacles for an exceptional experience. In this situation, the main challenge was the mountain itself. 

“In terms of a complex environment where you have to move equipment around, a mountain is pretty hard to beat,” laughs Éric Gallant, who has seen his fair share of special projects in the entertainment industry over the years. 

With alpine skiing activities monopolizing Le Massif de Charlevoix during the winter months, the window of opportunity for on-site testing was rather limited. Solotech technicians were able to travel to the mountain to conduct tests and determine the best equipment to use for one week in September 2022. Afterward, Éric Gallant and his team used topographical maps to analyze and plan the deployment as efficiently as possible. It was only a week before the installation started that they could return to Le Massif to tour the route and familiarize themselves with the atypical environment. With the help of Production Manager Robert Lemoine and his team, the mountain installation was completed in five weeks. 

While most AV deployments take place in relatively controlled environments, using adapted equipment (heavy trucks for transporting equipment, forklifts, hoists, etc.), it was not the case for this project. At Le Massif, the steepness of the terrain forced the team to transport equipment in smaller quantities in pick-up trucks, all-terrain vehicles, and an unusual vehicle that came in handy: the snow groomer!  

“Transportation was the lifeblood of the business over there,” says Éric Gallant. “The snow groomer saved us days of assembly. Without this machine, we might not have been able to install all the equipment on time without having to add a lot of technicians.”  

Working with the utmost respect for the environment

Deployment in a natural environment requires a high level of respect for the environment and its wildlife. On-site, the technicians worked among birds and wild animals of all kinds.  

“I never thought I’d have to hold a health and safety meeting that started with ‘If you see a bear, here’s what to do!” laughs our project manager. 

The technicians were able to admire the animals’ daily life while keeping a safe distance. 

A stimulating challenge met with flying colours

Deploying cutting-edge technology in an atypical environment requires extra preparation and forces our team of experts to be at the top of their game. 

“We had a great team,” concludes Éric Gallant. “Everyone was thrilled to be working outdoors; it was good for them, even if we had to climb slopes of 26-30 degrees for half a kilometer to install equipment. I could count on technicians who were happy to be there, who had fun, and who almost saw it as a nature retreat! It’s rare to still be at the installation stage and have people already talking to you about dismantling because they want to be there!” 

With the first season of Le Vol de l’Oiseau mécanique now complete, the Solotech team’s attention is already focused on possible improvements to make everything more optimal in Year 2. 

Le Vol de l’Oiseau mécanique will return to Le Massif de Charlevoix in the summer of 2024. 

Photo Credit: Guillaume Genereux, Crew Chief, Production, Solotech 




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