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Opening Ceremony


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@RobH: When you get round to watching the opening on DVD, invite a few friends, clear a large floor space in front of your TV, turn the volume up, select the stadium sound (no commentary) option, and don't forget your bucket!

:D That sounds as if watching the ceremony in that mode makes one puke. But I suppose you meant a bucket full of popcorn or fried chicken, right? ;)

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I think it is a great pity that the OBS directors did not show more of the pixels in the TV coverage and that they consequently did not come across as well as they might have done on TV.

I hope most people would agree that from an audience perspective, they looked really effective:

Edited by mjb22
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I find them too distracting...and somehow they ALSO detract a certain old-time charm when audience members could participate in some kitschy things like stunt cards, masks, the Wave, etc., etc. Now, the live audience's reaction and as seen by the TV audience at home seems very restrained and completely determined by the show that the pixels will give. And if the pixels become such a dominant part of the ceremony, then why bother having a live audience after all. As I always say, people complain about the empty seats at an Olympics. Use a program which fills those seats in digitally. The pixels come about as chose to doing that job. And here's the biggest negative trade-off for the introduction of the pixels. I understand that those darn things cut out the traditional Spectator Participation Kit for which I guess Vancouver was the last user of the practice.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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I liked the pixels - it looked just amazing, when you sat in the stadium...

I had the impression that they knew better how they have to use them at the closing ceremony - the colours and the seagull and the "Freedom" were very impressive...

Edited by Citius Altius Fortius
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I had the impression that they knew better how they have to use them at the closing ceremony - the colours and the seagull and the "Freedom" were very impressive...

I agree - I thought they worked much better, or at least were better highlighted, in the CC.

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@baron-pierreIV:
I think you're being unfair on pixel technology. As the pixels can be deployed in semi-portable mode, the spectators can use them for stunts (again, TV missed out on this at the London opening, but the audience were taught various moves to be used as directed, for example towards the end of the children's literature sequence when all the pixels were lit in blue).
As we seem to have moved pretty definitively to night-time for these ceremonies, showing the stadium spectators is an inevitable problem- if you shine lights at them too much, you detract from their experience. However, doing away with the audience is out of the question; what's abundantly clear from accounts by people on the delivery side of the equation is that the sound of a sudden intake of breath from 70,000 people is something to treasure for ever.
I agree that the lack of a spectator "kit" was something of an issue in London, but I don't think the use of pixels need rule that out entirely for the future.

@Citius Altius Fortius:
From the audience footage I've seen, the use of pixels in "Frankie and June" was at least as imaginative as anything in the Closing- sections like the video game near the beginning, the London Underground (happy 150th birthday)- both the map animation and the tunnel scene, and perhaps most of all, the total involvement of the whole stadium after the revelation of Tim.

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Quite likely. Russia will be dressed to impress so it will be anything and everything.

I think the pixels probably have another ceremony or two of life left in them, they are still to be completely perfected - so Sochi can still contribute alot to the technology I think. Especially considering Scott Givens is one of the pioneers in stadium spectator stunts .

And in terms of the countdowns , I would agree that there probably lacked a specific moment which marked the start of the ceremony, it seemed to depend on the broadcasters. I know Sky tv here in NZ showed the initial countdown but there was some commentary over the top of it.

I personally liked the second countdown, I thought the music worked well and did like the warm smiles from the the 3 ladies holding the posters - it certainly fit in with the rest of the ceremony theme. The balloons though were a tad tacky.

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I think the pixels probably have another ceremony or two of life left in them, they are still to be completely perfected - so Sochi can still contribute alot to the technology I think. Especially considering Scott Givens is one of the pioneers in stadium spectator stunts .

And in terms of the countdowns , I would agree that there probably lacked a specific moment which marked the start of the ceremony, it seemed to depend on the broadcasters. I know Sky tv here in NZ showed the initial countdown but there was some commentary over the top of it.

I personally liked the second countdown, I thought the music worked well and did like the warm smiles from the the 3 ladies holding the posters - it certainly fit in with the rest of the ceremony theme. The balloons though were a tad tacky.

You think the pixels have a shelf life? I can see Sochi using them, Rio (especially if they go down the high-camp Carnivale path), and even PC18 -- I sense that it would be a good fit with Koreas e-revolution. Tokyo is certainly going to use a form of this technology - Istanbul, maybe not? I see an Istanbul ceremony being more of a traditional Ottoman Beijing style ceremony. [/speculation]

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Yeah, I think these pixels will like most other ceremonies devices will have a lifespan, and then will be shunted aside in favour of something else. The art of *stadium theatre* is full of these things which are jawdropping at the time, but most of them have now been overlooked and I imagine the same will happen with pixels.

I know the whole card stunt and (dare I say it) ponchos trend of the 80s and early 90s was thought of as amazing at the time, but I think those days are behind us - I guess the same could be said about lasers, and maybe even the concept of stadium ground covers - who back in Barcelona would have thought we would be flooding a stadium with water or recreating a farm for the set of an opening ceremony.

I think we will probably see some kind of evolution, it will be easily identified as coming from the pixel technology, but different - who knows what it will be though.

I do think Sochi and probably Rio will have them in some form though, like I said, there is alot of perfection still to be applied to them.

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You think the pixels have a shelf life? I can see Sochi using them, Rio (especially if they go down the high-camp Carnivale path), and even PC18 -- I sense that it would be a good fit with Koreas e-revolution. Tokyo is certainly going to use a form of this technology - Istanbul, maybe not? I see an Istanbul ceremony being more of a traditional Ottoman Beijing style ceremony. [/speculation]

the pixels will be a fixture in the games, like fireworks, night ceremonies and countdowns. i do wish that Istambul gets the games. it might be a nice change of location. (tokyo is be my second pick)

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You think the pixels have a shelf life? I can see Sochi using them, Rio (especially if they go down the high-camp Carnivale path), and even PC18 -- I sense that it would be a good fit with Koreas e-revolution. Tokyo is certainly going to use a form of this technology - Istanbul, maybe not? I see an Istanbul ceremony being more of a traditional Ottoman Beijing style ceremony. [/speculation]

How do you know? Maybe after 3 tries, the producers will find it old hat and some new technology would've come up. It's too sweeping to stay that that will be the dominant technology for the next decade of Os. I can see it becoming trite and old hat quickly.

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I guess the same could be said about lasers,

Yeah, after LA and Seoul's Closing, I don't remember lasers being used in an Olympic Ceremony anymore. A regional one or 2 like an Asian, an African one, and PanAms...also used the lasers for one or 2 shows. I think the pixel thing will be soooo 2012-2014 by the time Rio rolls around.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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Yeah, after LA and Seoul's Closing, I don't remember lasers being used in an Olympic Ceremony anymore. A few of the regional one like the Asians, and African one...also used the lasers for one or 2 shows. I think the pixel thing will be so 2012-2014 by the time Rio rolls around.

if my mind serve me correct, Athens did use lasers during the-huge-rock-floating-under-the-sea bit.

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I think lasers in the form of *lets have a laser light show* which was the big wow thing of the 80s - are over (by and large). I think there are new avenues for lasers which to an extent Athens used - but in terms of just having a few laser waves bounce around the place - it hasn't really seen out the test of time - unlike pyrotechnics.

And I'd agree with Baron re pixel technology. I liked their use in London, but at the same time, there is no reason to say they won't date in the future. I don't see them being like fireworks. Pyrotechnics just have the universal ability to make people ooooh ahhhhh and smile - little led screens don't have that power.

And I think it's also going to be in the eyes of some ceremonies producers - an added overly expense that just isn't needed.

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Perhaps an example of ceremonies overlay that had the technology , but that didn't continue, would have been the Doha gigantus LED screen. Granted it isn't easily transferred to every stadium in the world - but i thought it made for some striking images and added to the ceremony, yet it certainly hasn't been recreated much on that scale again.

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if my mind serve me correct, Athens did use lasers during the-huge-rock-floating-under-the-sea bit.

I must've blinked. I black out a lot of things that happened in 2004.

Perhaps an example of ceremonies overlay that had the technology , but that didn't continue, would have been the Doha gigantus LED screen. Granted it isn't easily transferred to every stadium in the world - but i thought it made for some striking images and added to the ceremony, yet it certainly hasn't been recreated much on that scale again.

And that was because it was placed where Emir & family (who were financing the whole extravaganza) could view and enjoy it. Forget that whole section to whose back it was placed. They don't rate; they were only commoners.

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The thing about the pixels is that they provide a very effective way to bridge the normally-darkened space between arena floor and rooftop lighting rigs & firework launchers. If people want to fill that gap, then they're going to have to be very imaginative to improve on pixels as installed in London. However, the London installation was very heavily engineered- nearly 400 km of cabling, which was, I understand, a precaution following problems with earlier systems. That's a heck of an investment, and we may well see some ingenious alternatives tried at least once simply for budgetary/ practical reasons.

@baron-pierreIV:
Silly me. You're absolutely right about Glasgow being a daylight ceremony. The place is so far north that at that time of year it's unavoidable unless you start around midnight!

@mattygs & baron-pierreIV:
I think these days tailored multi-projector systems would be used instead of an LED screen for very large displays on vertical surfaces (as on Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee concert); they're versatile and portable, which makes them very cost-effective.

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Ooh- and come to think of it, the Doha Arab Games 2011 used tailored projection onto the entire peformance area...

As did Vancouver. But here's the difference. Vancouver had the largest, best, most versatile use of simple, old-fashioned projected imagery (see my book) w/o resorting to all the flashy, gimmicky toys that appeared in both Doha 2006 and 2011. And the odd thing is that all 3 shows were produced by the David Atkins outfit. And one caters to one's client's tastes. A strong narrative and imaginative use of imagery did the job for Vancouver (and what would be generally viewed as western tastes). For Doha, and since they had a previous outing already in 2006, Atkins upped the toy-gimmickry ante for 2011 with those LED pixels in seats because he knew it would be a hit with the Arabs and the Bedouins. Vegas, Doha, Bahrain, what is it about the desert living that brings out gaudier presentations? :D Not saying it's bad; it's just different. Just as the shopping malls in the Gulf and Las Vegas must be among the most luxurious looking in the world today.

I think Sochi will be like a very heavy Russian novel/opera, with or without gimmix such as pixels.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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@baron-pierreIV:

I think you're being unfair on pixel technology. As the pixels can be deployed in semi-portable mode, the spectators can use them for stunts (again, TV missed out on this at the London opening, but the audience were taught various moves to be used as directed, for example towards the end of the children's literature sequence when all the pixels were lit in blue).

As we seem to have moved pretty definitively to night-time for these ceremonies, showing the stadium spectators is an inevitable problem- if you shine lights at them too much, you detract from their experience. However, doing away with the audience is out of the question; what's abundantly clear from accounts by people on the delivery side of the equation is that the sound of a sudden intake of breath from 70,000 people is something to treasure for ever.

I agree that the lack of a spectator "kit" was something of an issue in London, but I don't think the use of pixels need rule that out entirely for the future.

@Citius Altius Fortius:

From the audience footage I've seen, the use of pixels in "Frankie and June" was at least as imaginative as anything in the Closing- sections like the video game near the beginning, the London Underground (happy 150th birthday)- both the map animation and the tunnel scene, and perhaps most of all, the total involvement of the whole stadium after the revelation of Tim.

@JMarkSnow2012,

I was one of the spectators in the stadium during the Opening as well as during the Closing Ceremony - I liked the idea that we - the spectators - are part of the Opening Ceremony, but I expected that the different moves of the pixel have more impact on how the pixel look from afar.

I sat on the right side of the tree in the upper tire (quite close to the choir) and I didn't have the impression that pixel look really different when we moved the "pixel sticks"...

And I think that there were too many different moves - the different moves were not difficult, but it was quite distracting to look out which move was "ordered" by the mechanics - furthermore I had the impression that the spectators lost interest to follow the orders, when they didn't really "saw" an impact...

I believe that the organisers thought the same otherwise they would have used the pixel in the Closing Ceremony the same way as in the Opening Ceremony - what they didn't do...

But nevertheless I do love the two ceremonies of London - it was such adventure to be at the Olympic Games last summer for the first time...

Edited by Citius Altius Fortius
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@Citius Altius Fortius:
Judging from the liveblogs of the warm-up to the London opening, everybody thought the pixel moves were too complicated. I wonder if the organisers were over-compensating for the lack of flashcards, ponchos etc? You can tell in footage of the blue-lit section I mentioned that there's a sort of twinkly effect, but I suspect that for maximum impact, audience participation with pixels is going to have to rely more on the Mexican Wave principle (do whatever the person to your left just did) than on section-by-section instructions from polite mechanicals.

@baron-pierreIV:
I'm not sure it's desert living as such that brings out the gaudiness; Las Vegas, in particular, wasn't built for living, but for persuading people to spend money. I think the common factor is simply people wanting to show how wealthy they are, which isn't appropriate behaviour in an ordinary (I'm tempted to put "proper") city like Vancouver or Sydney.

... I hope Sochi will reveal at least one truly amazing thing we never saw coming!

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