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Social Media Set To Spoil Opening-ceremony Surprise


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Social media set to spoil opening-ceremony surprise

The Globe and Mail

By Marsha Lederman, The Globe and Mail Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2010 11:51 PM ET

VANCOUVER - For two and a half years, since the team producing the opening and closing ceremonies for the Vancouver Olympic Games was put in place, the content of the ceremonies has been a closely guarded secret.

Participants have signed non-disclosure agreements and have been reminded at every turn that they're not to reveal anything about the ceremonies - not even to family or friends. The creative team has been cagey in interviews, careful not to provide any hint of what the audience can expect on Feb. 12. Maintaining the element of surprise has been a top priority.

But when thousands of spectators are allowed in for dress rehearsals at B.C. Place next week before Friday's opening ceremony, observers say it's impossible that those secrets will remain under wraps.

"You start opening up a performance event with spectators and you want to maintain a high level of secrecy, I just don't see how it's even conceivable," said Richard Smith, a professor of the school of communication at Simon Fraser University. "Certainly people will talk and when people talk, things no longer stay contained."

Dr. Smith, an expert in social media, said in the age of Twitter and Facebook, he can't imagine that people will keep mum - even if they do sign a non-disclosure agreement. "Every little blogger on the planet is thinking: ‘Well I could get a reprimand, but think of the hits.' "

There are three dress rehearsals: one this Saturday, which is closed to spectators and one next Monday and Wednesday.

(A contingency rehearsal planned for tomorrow was cancelled, according to a dancer in the ceremony, because things are going so well.)

The tickets to the Monday and Wednesday dress rehearsals are being made available to the "2010 work force" and people volunteering in the ceremonies, so they can invite family and friends.

But some people are re-selling their tickets on Craigslist, for as much as $200 a ticket.

Max Condor, 16, is selling five tickets for $150 each, which he received for free as a volunteer performer in the closing ceremony. He's selling the tickets for "some extra cash, and [because] I don't really want to go," he said yesterday. He wouldn't disclose his role in the closing ceremony, citing a confidentiality agreement he has signed.

Ticket holders to the dress rehearsals have been advised that they cannot bring cameras or cellphones, and have been told to come early and expect airport-style security.

"We have taken many steps over the past couple of years to keep the contents of the ceremonies confidential, and this confidentiality extends to the dress rehearsal," reads a VANOC statement.

"We believe the surprise element is critically important for the anticipation and ultimate enjoyment of the show by all Canadians and people around the world on Feb. 12.

"We are aware of a few instances where tickets were being sold on Craigslist, and as this is a private event, we are taking steps to ensure that the confidentiality of the opening ceremonies is maintained."

VANOC would not provide an interview, so what those steps are remains unclear.

This is not the first time people have been invited to attend a dress rehearsal for an Olympic opening ceremony. In recent years, it's been done in Sydney, Athens and even Beijing.

Olympic historian Kevin Wamsley, acting dean of the faculty of health sciences at the University of Western Ontario, was at the Sydney dress rehearsal in 2000. He remembers that a giant flag ripped in half, and said there were a few other technical glitches that he noticed had been fixed by the time the real show was presented to the world. "If I was trying to co-ordinate so many people and trying to use technology and sound and video and choreography in such a complicated manner, I'd certainly want my people to be rehearsing and rehearsing in front of a crowd," he said.

But the media landscape has changed radically since Sydney, thanks to social networking, and information is now disclosed instantaneously.

A South Korean television crew leaked video from a rehearsal of the Beijing opening ceremony, which could be viewed online, and organizers were apoplectic.

Even since Beijing, the use of Twitter has exploded.

"VANOC would have to be completely naive to imagine that they could open the rehearsal up [without people finding out details]," Dr. Smith said. "It'll go onto Twitter and that'll be the end of that."

Dr. Smith wonders if VANOC is hoping some information will be leaked, to get some buzz going before next Friday's event.

"It used to be that if you wanted people to watch the opening ceremonies, you put it in TV Guide. Well, no one reads that sort of crap any more; nobody watches television on a schedule any more. So if you want people to pay attention, you have to have it out in social media and maybe they'll go ‘oh is that today?' and click on the link and maybe turn on their television.

"Leaking stuff early so that it can get into the media, that's Publicity 101."

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I wanted to add that Team 2010 is not amused with people selling the tickets online, and they are voiding any tickets found to be sold and not given to previously known persons. They are definitely going to reprimand people found doing so and from what I've heard so far there wouldn't be any hesitancy to remove the person from the ceremonies.

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I wanted to add that Team 2010 is not amused with people selling the tickets online, and they are voiding any tickets found to be sold and not given to previously known persons. They are definitely going to reprimand people found doing so and from what I've heard so far there wouldn't be any hesitancy to remove the person from the ceremonies.

And light of that article, whoever Max Condor is should be extremely worried for his job.

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I don't understand why Vanoc gives so many tickets for each volunteer? :blink:

In Torino they gave just 1 ticket to each volunteer and to have it/to enter to the Stadium you had to show your accreditation. Nobody else than workforce was allowed to enter inside the Olympic Stadium for the rehearsal.

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I don't understand why Vanoc gives so many tickets for each volunteer? :blink:

In Torino they gave just 1 ticket to each volunteer and to have it/to enter to the Stadium you had to show your accreditation. Nobody else than workforce was allowed to enter inside the Olympic Stadium for the rehearsal.

I'm not sure: i believe performers/ceremonies volunteers get tons of free tickets while the remaining 25,000 volunteers get one additional ticket for a family member for $60 each while supplies last.

Perhaps VANOC thought it would be a good way to make some money? And I'm also guessing they might want to replicate a full-house crowd condition for he rehearsal.

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Perhaps VANOC thought it would be a good way to make some money? And I'm also guessing they might want to replicate a full-house crowd condition for he rehearsal.

Perhaps some 'audience-particpation' aspect of the ceremony requires a full house for the rehearsal...depending on what they're doing, they may want a chance to practice teaching a stadium full of people how to do something on cue.

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That's not necessarily true X. It was pretty much just one free ticket each with an extra for 50$, but they only offered that for one of the rehearsals.

Many of the people working in the ceremonies (who can't use their own ticket) couldn't find anybody to give theirs to, so a lot of them just went to get one and have given it to another volunteer who was looking for more. Apparently that's completely fine but the selling to a 3rd party without accountability via a personal relationship is strictly forbidden.

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Ok.Ok.Ok. This is just going too far psycho for me. If the organizers have repeatedly made it clear that Vancouver will not top Beijing, and if a few minutes of Beijing's dress rehersal were leaked, the what's all this fuss about secrecy with Vancouver? Just pull back the curtain ok?

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Are the Whistler volunteers getting 2 tix each?

Anyway, the two reasons they sort of want a "full" house is:

1. as Ice Narcissus explained, certain audience participation stunts can only be judged successful if whole sections are present; and

2. The final 2 Dress Rehearsals (with audience) are the back-up footage in case anything should go wrong with the "live" ceremony. Therefore, they need nearly full-seating in the stands to match the actual conditions on Feb 12 (when the stadium will indeed be 100% full) so that "back-up" footage will sync with the "live" picture.

See...another CEREMONIAL SECRET you just learned from Baron. So buy the book NOW!!

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2. The final 2 Dress Rehearsals (with audience) are the back-up footage in case anything should go wrong with the "live" ceremony. Therefore, they need nearly full-seating in the stands to match the actual conditions on Feb 12 (when the stadium will indeed be 100% full) so that "back-up" footage will sync with the "live" picture.

See...another CEREMONIAL SECRET you just learned from Baron. So buy the book NOW!!

Oh, was that in the book as well? Then I must have overlooked it. Do you know if they ever had to use the back-up footage at any of the opening ceremonies -- or at least contemplated to do so?

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Do you know if they ever had to use the back-up footage at any of the opening ceremonies -- or at least contemplated to do so?

The only instance when power failed (that I'm aware of and has been written about) is for the LA-1984 Opening when some 20-mins after the "WELCOME" Opening, some of the mylar balloons fell on power lines outside LA. It did cause blackouts in certain outlying sections of LA. When word of this reached the Coliseum (where there was a slight distortion of the picture just before the giant stunt card trick), the back-up generators at the Coliseum were activated. But I don't think ABC had to fall back on the 'dress rehearsal' footage.

I think since then, the Broadcast unit* of the Organizing Committee has a few back-up plans in place should power fail during the Ceremonies telecast that they have never had to fall back on the 'reserve' footage. But there's always a first time.

*Manolo Romero had this whole franchise..pretty much up to Athens 2004. Romero also handled a few World Cups.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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