Entertainment Business Live: The Backbone Standard

We were fortunate that in recent years, we could spread our wings and realize our international ambitions," said Joris Joosen. "It was our dream to create a global production net­ work where we can connect people with the same passion and Backbone DNA. However, our growth brings challenges: we want to offer all of our customers the same quality and service without making any concessions. We invest in our local networks and enter into joint ventures with local parties. There are good producers in every country. By sharing knowledge and experiences, we try to raise the quality level everywhere."

Guarantor for quality

Not only has the company grown in recent years, but large steps have also been taken in the process. Joosen: "The con­sumer mainly sees the outside, the many beautiful productions that we are able to work on. But behind-the-scenes and backstage details are just as important. Then, I mean focusing on the technical drawings and the designs, which form the foundation of all productions. We strive to achieve one Backbone standard for techni­cal drawings for all our productions." "Our office in Hong Kong works the same way as in Amsterdam or New York," says Alex Melsen, technical designer at Backbone's headquarters. "Remember that you are dealing with different time zones. In Hong Kong, it is eight hours later; in New York, it is six hours earlier. For example, large shows in China and Japan are outlined in Amsterdam, after which colleagues in America take over the drawings. That way we can draw around the clock and be active 24 hours a day, literally! Of course, there are still some bumps in the road, but in the end, you should not see which tech­nical designer is responsible for a drawing. The Backbone' style' guarantees quality." "Moreover, we can reduce the workload by executing in this manner," adds Joris Joosen. "The festival season in Europe has very different peaks compared to Asia, for example." Yet another challenge is the language: "We are now completely mo­ving to English. That sounds like a simple step, but it does require all the necessary feet on the ground. All procedures, manu­als, and so on are now under scrutiny and are sent to our staff in the cloud."

Expectation Management

The designers and drafters at Backbone use the extensive CAD drawing program SCAD Re­Event. The company has a close relationship with developer AniVizzion from the Netherlands. Alex Melsen: "Thanks to our collaboration, we are the first to test unique functions and quickly switch to new developments. A good dra­wing helps a customer visualize his event, catch possible bottlenecks, and manage expectations. In this way, our cus­tomers see immediately how their event will look and what is being delivered. In addition, we can see in a drawing whether different disciplines collide with each other (collision management). Many external designers and suppliers are often involved in our productions. We capture all rela­ted information in our central production drawing to create an overall picture of the production. An important part of this is a detailed 3D location drawing. By combining all the information, you receive a framework in which problems can be identified and, ultimately, solu­tions can be found. Think... loudspeaker arrays that are maybe too long, the sight­ lines, and the escape routes – to name a few examples. 

Furthermore, based on the drawings, we can consult with suppliers and discuss all needs for a specific project. Also, can this be achieved with standard rental equipment, or do we have to construct something custom? Based on all this data, we can give our custo­mers a quick and specific cost indication. In this matter, a drawing isn't just that; it's dynamic and 'living' – which means it can constantly be adjusted and tweaked."

Motion Video

Looking back on 2017, Melsen mentioned the Amsterdam Music Festival (AMF) in the Amsterdam ArenA during the last editi­on of the Amsterdam Dance Event as one of the highlights. "For AMF, it was a challenge to stay as close to the original design as pos­sible without losing sight of the budget and facing all technical challenges. We are also proud of the Red Bull BC One World Final (World Cup Breakdance), which we, toge­ther with Red Bull and Tribe Company, produced in the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of November. If you see how much mate­rial we put into that space... In a location of sixty meters in diameter, constructions were, at some points, only five centimeters from the stone walls. You can only do so­mething like that if you work very detailed and know specifically what you are doing. This event was technically not the most complex, but the health and safety as­pects were additionally just as complex, if not more. Our clients, Tribe Company and Red Bull, were delighted, as well as ourselves!"

"In the coming years, we will mainly be able to expect further developments in creative video products," says Melsen. "We will also see more 'motion' in productions. Think of elevators, movable bridges, flight systems, but also robot arms, self-propelled risers, and drones."


Backbone may be known for its large events, but the company also focuses on corporate events. Joosen: "In the past, I expressed the wish to take care of more corporate events, and we succeeded. We are currently wor­king for great agencies in the corporate world, such as CG Creative, Kingcanary, Oil, and Tribe Company. In short, Backbone International's future looks bright.

We are still growing, and the necessary pro­ jects are in the pipeline, such as corporate shows in Europe, North America, and Asia. In June, we will be participating in a project around the time of the Champions League final in Kyiv, and we will also be working on a unique festival in Cuba. Furthermore, we are currently investigating the opportuni­ties for Backbone to break into the German market. We hope to start an office there in mid­2018 to serve our clients better. Because that's what it's all about for us in the coming years. Growing is one thing, but the most important thing is that all projects are optimally serviced and our customers are served efficiently."

This article was published in 2018.