Creative Engineers

Drawbridge for Paris

Vikings needed a drawbridge, as part of the set for a large Paris city of that era. It needed to work at full scale, heavy enough to carry people and horses, while appearing authentically constructed from timber. In particular, it needed to be safe to operate, without risk of failure. It also needed to move quickly for a reveal, but always under control.


OMEY were asked by Vikings to design and build an engineering solution. We designed, simulated, built, tested and installed a hidden hydraulic mechanism as the core of the drawbridge, so that no human operator or ropes needed to be relied upon.


We started by calculating the loads the bridge needed to withstand, both static and dynamically. We used this in CAD design to develop a hidden steel mechanism, comprising rigid torsion bar and two hydraulically operated arms. The design was made in parts, so that they could be assembled, tested offsite, and brought to the set for rapid assembly.


A key challenge was how to ensure there was enough power to lift the drawbridge, which called for large hydraulic rams, with double capacity for fail safe, while having enough speed and control to drop the bridge for the reveal. In the end we built a custom hydraulic power pack that was small, silent and had sufficient flow and power.


Carmel Nugent Supervising Art Director, Vikings IV said: “We were very happy with the drawbridge mechanism OMEY came up with for this set. It solved all the practical and safety issues associated with a feature like this.”