Olympic Opening Ceremony

Well I watch a large part of the opening ceremony on the BBC network and yes I was sucked in by the spectacle. This is stunning in excess. Danny Boyle has put together one of the most amazing visual feasts. He has shown  impact of new media on the world and paid tribute to the inventor of the world wide web, British Sir Tim Berners-Lee. He has also paid homage to several decades of British music.And what could have been tacky but actually worked well was the tribute to the British NHS, their national health service. I want a glowing bed sheet. The whole process of putting something this size together is down to planning for ever detail, production management at its best. One thing that is worth noting is that this large cast also moved their own props and sets on and off in a very understated manner. This is how theatre should always be. The change from one scenic element to another was just amazing, the numerous set ups created by the designers and implemented by the cast was just great, from farms with clouds to a ship to a house.

There was some amazing lighting to watch and the best way it seems is by the humble TV set. The technical aspects of this production were just stunning. From the numerous line array speakers that gave an even coverage for all seated in the stadium. The flying systems for the larger than life puppets and the dozens of Mary Poppins were a joy to see. It is so great to se something like this come together considering that the 7500 performers were all volunteers. The lighting provided great stunning washes, but it was also capable of some real subtle effects, something that you normally do not associate with this style of event.

So what stood out? Well the use of pixel mapping is to be commended. The audience all became pixels in a huge screen, at each seating position there was a cabled wand that was control by a computer/ lighting console to control the colour and intensity for each pixel. This took about 40 days to install, and it looked stunning. There were they usual array of moving lights, we can all think think of the names, and also a lot of static fixtures such ETC S4’s though out the stadium.

There was so much to take in. There was something for everyone. I am going to have to watch some of it again to take it all in. Over the next few days I will try and find out more of the technical aspects.


Here is a run down of some of the key persons involved:

Danny Boyle, director
Mark Fisher, production design
Patrick Woodroffe, lighting design
Andy Voller, lighting programmer
Piers Shepperd, technical director
Jeremy Lloyd, technical manager (technical design and staging)
James Lee, technical manager (aerial)
Nick Jones, technical manager (lighting, AV, power)
Scott Buchanan, technical manager (services and special projects)
Chris Ekers, senior production manager (audio & communications)

It looks like PRG supplied most of   the lighting except the Synchrolites and Arena colours which were supplied by Synchrolite and ELP.. Audio was possible supplied by 3 companies that got together. One of these seems to be Brittania Row and another could be Delta. I hope to hear more later on.


The PA speaker system consisted of around 220 L-Acoustics V-DOSC cabinets. These were all flown around the arena.. The down fill was provided by 50 ARCS boxes. RFor those at ground level the audio was supplied by around 80 L-Acoustics SB28 subs, with additional front fill from (approx.) 80 KUDO cabinets. This PA was rigged especially for the Opening Ceremony even though there is an “in house” PA which consists of Electro-Voice EVH horn-loaded co-axial speakers which come from the  Innovation series. In all it has been estimated that the PA could produce up to 1 million watts of audio power. That would certainly rattle a few windows if cranked.

The LED Pendants in the audince seating areas were installed byTait Technologies. “The pixels took around two months to install & used 320 miles of cable. Will Case, Creative Director of Crystal CG (who mapped the stadium), “it allows you to break the traditional boundary between the audience and the field of play”” The results of this was truly amazing.

For those of you that will be in London for PLASA in September there is an event that you can attend to find out more information on how the put together the opening ceremony. Just follow the link HERE

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