This Week's Editor's Pick

SEW-Eurodrive and Film Riggers help French Spiderman

2nd Quarter 2019 This Week's Editor's Pick Electrical switching & drive systems & components

Specialist rigging company, Film Riggers, was recently called upon to ensure the safety of Alain Robert, aka the French Spiderman, while he scaled a skyscraper in central Johannesburg to create an advertisement for an international tyre manufacturer.

Film Riggers, a long-time user of automation and mechatronics technology from SEW-Eurodrive, was approached by a production company to execute logistics and safety during filming for the advertisement. The idea was to have Robert climb the building while it was raining, as a metaphor for the extra grip provided by the tyres on display.

Partner Graham Terrell, who established Film Riggers with Alard Hüfner in 2012, explains that Robert had two ropes attached to a harness, controlled by SEW-Eurodrive drives using a custom program based on torque control to belay the climber.

The winches devised by Film Riggers use the Movidrive inverter, including the IPOSplus integrated positioning and sequence control system. The drive inverters have a wide power range, large overload capacity, and a modular design. In addition, they facilitate unrestricted application of AC drives, featuring the most modern digital inverter technology, according to Maxolution Engineer. Dylan Enslin.

For this particular project, Film Riggers used CM112 synchronous servomotors. Two 11 kW drives were used to secure the climber, and a 30 kW drive for the accompanying camera system.

Terrell was given access to the OEM’s electronics workshop to configure a miniature setup of the system, based on a 0,55 kW Movidrive drive inverter. This allowed for more controlled and refined testing, allowing Terrell to ultimately scale up the solution to the specific requirements of the project.

Commenting on the challenges, Hüfner says that Film Riggers had the dual responsibility of winching the camera platform up and down, in addition to securing Robert and ensuring his safety during filming.

“The idea was for the camera to be seen to be almost in pursuit of him, then tilting as it went past and tracking him,” elaborates Terrell. “Due to changes made at the last minute, we had to adjust the programming in order to cater for the new reference points needed for the rigging. While this is a unique application of the Movidrive inverter technology, it is an excellent example of the flexibility and innovation of SEW-Eurodrive in responding to specific customer requirements and offering tailor-made solutions capable of adapting to the latest developments.”

For more information contact Jana Klut, SEW-Eurodrive, +27 11 248 7000,,


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