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London 2012 Olympic Cauldron...


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I have to agree with Athensfan in the regard that the London cauldron lighting wasn't a real "wow" moment. Only the shots from below, showing how the petals joined and formed that radiating and almost hypnotising pattern of flames and "rays" (=the stems of the cauldron) impressed me deeply. But the cauldron lighting itself was actually pretty conventional (torchbearers dipping their torches into the bowl(s)) and also the rising of the stems wasn't technically overly exciting.

Compared to that, I was a lot more excited about how they would light the cauldrons in Sydney, Torino, Beijing and Vancouver. Those cauldron lightings had a lot more excitement and anticipation in the air, in parts also by the use of exciting music. The music was particularly dramatic in Athens, where the lighting method was already known (or guessable) and the mechanics were pretty conventional as well, but where they had an even more stunning image than in London when that lit cauldron was shown from behind, seemingly rising above the athletes.

So there was a lot more emotion/excitement involved for me in those previous lightings, while London's pretty simplistic lighting completely contradicted our month-long speculations about some spectacular lighting methods and cauldron locations. So it's no surprise that I viewed their cauldron lighting as pretty much of a letdown.

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What exactly has been the point of the last 160 pages, then? When did we cross the line into throwing away anything, potentially legitamate, anyone brings up in this thread simply because "it won't ma

The longer I see it "in action", I think that the idea behind the cauldron lighting and the design was extremely clever - but Heatherwick and Company completely failed in realising that the cauldron w

I don't quite understand your reasoning that the 2012 location is showing more people worldwide the cauldron that had it been located elsewhere (ie roofline of stadium etc). The cauldron is always a f

There are very few Olympic cities that get the cauldron AND the lighting perfect - one is more often than not compromised by the other. In fact, I don't think any summer host has had a "perfect" combination of everything since Barcelona really.

I think Sydney and Athens were up there with Barcelona in terms of their originality, wow-moment and the cauldron itself.

In the last two decades those three have got to be the best. Just below them would be London, and below that Beijing, Salt Lake City and Atlanta.

Turin still seems an illigitimate joke, and Vancouver just outright shonky and awkward.

Edited by runningrings
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I think Sydney and Athens were up there with Barcelona in terms of their originality, wow-moment and the cauldron itself.

In the last two decades those three have got to be the best. Just below them would be London, and below that Beijing, Salt Lake City and Atlanta.

Turin still seems an illigitimate joke, and Vancouver just outright shonky and awkward.

Not far off disagreeing with that, though I wouldn't put London below those top three but amongst them.

I think the point for me is, London compromised the location for the lighting, whilst most hosts (to a greater of lesser extent) make the compromise the other way round. Beijing's lighting was massively compromised by the cauldron's position for me. Yes, you could appreciate the athleticism that it took to light it, but it was so drawn out that it didn't hit the mark - especially after the huge opening ceremony that preceded it. Atlanta was the worst example of this in the Summer Games, only really rescued by Ali and the emotional resonance that came with his lighting of the cauldron. And yes, Turin is not really worth talking about - the opposite end of the scale to what London did really.

It'll be interesting to see how Rio manages and what they compromise on. They've got a real rod for their backs with their two stadium situation and the massive roof that will be over the Maracana once built.

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I'm surprised that so many people didn't like the Beijing lighting that much. I thought that run around the roof was stunning and not at all drawn out. In fact, I was glad that one could hear that beautiful "You and Me" theme longer than just a few seconds. Hadn't the Beijing torch relay been so controversial (and the pictures of the torch relay projected on the rim were, of course, whitewashed), it could have been an even better lighting scenario. It made perfect sense to have a run around the roof symbolising the torch relay around the world.

OK, the fuse was a bit simplistic, compared to the technical extravaganza of the rest of the opening ceremony - but I still found that better than the original idea of having a projected phoenix "catch" the flame from Li Ning and then "light" the cauldron. That would have been a fake lighting à la Torino.

Plus: Beijing's lighting scenario had more of the pomp I actually expect of a cauldron lighting. It should be something massive and impressive, even if you combine it (like Beijing) with a sweet little tune. London's was a bit too low-key for my taste.

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I really don't see how anyone could prefer Athens' cauldron lighting to London's. Off all the Olympic Ceremonies since 1980 (and I have the lot on VHS/DVD), Athens' Opening is easily my least favourite.

The Cauldron lighting in Athens lacked drama and was just rather 'tacky,' in my opinion. The Cauldron itself just looked like a rather large cigarette or some other such object. The fact that it 'bowed down' to receive the flame did nothing for me, I'm afraid.

As a piece of theatre, it isn't even in the same league as London's.

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I really don't see how anyone could prefer Athens' cauldron lighting to London's. Off all the Olympic Ceremonies since 1980 (and I have the lot on VHS/DVD), Athens' Opening is easily my least favourite.

The Cauldron lighting in Athens lacked drama and was just rather 'tacky,' in my opinion. The Cauldron itself just looked like a rather large cigarette or some other such object. The fact that it 'bowed down' to receive the flame did nothing for me, I'm afraid.

As a piece of theatre, it isn't even in the same league as London's.

I quite agree. To me, it just seemed a very "economical" cauldron in that it was possibly the only logical place to be able to stick something cauldron-y in, Calatrava found it, and designed a very slim, sleek device to stick in there. It wasn't an offensive design--but to me it was a very blah, uninspiring design. But considering how the rest of the Ceremony went and actually MISSED celebrating Greece or the joy of having the Games return home, berating the boring design of the cauldron appears to be like beating a dead horse.

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London’s quiet lighting was too simple for such a monumental moment imo.

Design Issues

The cauldron design ultimately was not as finished and powerful and I had hoped given the hype. The wobbly arms and all that exposed mechanism, hinges, conduits etc. around the base were so puzzling to me, I have a feeling the design was not fully realized as envisioned. The designer has had past design issues with installations such as the B of the Bang, which virtually fell apart and had to be dismantled…curious at minimum and unacceptable in my view.

Soft Lighting

As the flame traveled simply from the torch to each petal it flickered-frailly to alight the composition of elements softly, I'm sure that was quit sublime for some. However, it lacked the power of past lightings that I remember. When Beijing’s cauldron ignited it was a powerful burst of flames and emotion. London had some emotion but seemed to lack the power.

I hate missed oportunities.

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London’s quiet lighting was too simple for such a monumental moment imo.

Design Issues

The cauldron design ultimately was not as finished and powerful and I had hoped given the hype. The wobbly arms and all that exposed mechanism, hinges, conduits etc. around the base were so puzzling to me, I have a feeling the design was not fully realized as envisioned. The designer has had past design issues with installations such as the B of the Bang, which virtually fell apart and had to be dismantled…curious at minimum and unacceptable in my view.

Soft Lighting

As the flame traveled simply from the torch to each petal it flickered-frailly to alight the composition of elements softly, I'm sure that was quit sublime for some. However, it lacked the power of past lightings that I remember. When Beijing’s cauldron ignited it was a powerful burst of flames and emotion. London had some emotion but seemed to lack the power.

I hate missed oportunities.

I would've designed a cauldron that was in perpetual motion for the entire 17 days -- forever dancing and moving...taking away attention from the negligible things happening in the FOP. I hope Brazil does something like that.

We now have to give London 3 weeks to restage it all again to our renewed design expectations here. And take Danny Boyle out!

Heatherwick and Daldry, get going!!

London, the clock is ticking.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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I'm not going to go to the mat for Athens cauldron and lighting. It doesn't rival Barcelona for me.

However, I will say this:

1.) Athens' cauldron worked exquisitely with the architecture of the stadium -- perhaps better than any other cauldron. The cauldron by itself was not particularly amazing, but in context it worked. I can't say the same for London

2.) As with all of Athens' ceremony, the timing of the cauldron lighting was quick and fluid with no strange lags or pacing problems. It was very, very smooth. Again, I can't say the same for London.

3.) As one who was there in person the moment was DEFINITELY dramatic. The lighting, the animation of the cauldron and especially the Shostakovich combined for a thrilling effect. My only complaint here was that it was that the tone was dark and almost cultic -- not joyous and not warm. I think it was largely the Pirogov Finale that gave it that flavor. It was awesome and a bit intimidating. I suppose it worked, but I'm not sure I would have made the same choice. By contrast, London was very quiet and intimate. I don't mean this in a pejorative way at all, but the lighting of London's cauldron felt a bit more like a stadium gathered around a campfire rather than a moment of spectacular drama. I'm ok with the different approach. I just wouldn't call it a "wow" moment. Athens was "wow" (for me anyway) but in a dark and imposing way.

Just for kicks, here's a link to Pappaioannou's 3D simulation of Athens' lighting:

And here's the actual lighting:

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^^^ Great response. Athens was supremely Greek modern. Someone earlier mentioned it didn't celebrate Greece? It celebrated modernity and minimalism - a hallmark of Greek design since the days of ancient Olympia.

Athens cauldron felt part of the stadium - not tacked on like Sydney, Atlanta or Barcelona. It is almost like a modern Los Angeles. I loved the synchronicity of style and design in Athens. You can't say that for London, which despite its greatness, was a mish-mash of ideas and styles.

How can anyone say Athens lacked power? It had the perfect build up, right from the running of the flag from previous hosts right up to present, before the entry of the flame... "1992 - Barcelona... 1996 - Atlanta... 2000 - Sydney... 2004... ATHINAI" this was then followed by the slow transition of the "Heartbeat of the Runner" into an amazing piece of music by the orchestra which climaxed at the final torch bearer running at the cauldron - as it bowed down to meet him. It was immense, powerful.

It is my personal opinion that no cauldron lighting has matched the emotional power and pace that was slowly built by Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens. Beijing and London haven't maintained the same magic. I don't know why. I don't dislike the London cauldron (it was a beautiful reinterpretation), but didn't feel the same. I feel Rio de Janeiro might follow the low-key route following the example set by London and its difficult venue set up. Here's hoping Istanbul/Tokyo deliver something epic in 2020, which I'm sure they would.

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Easy. It lacked p-o-w-e-r. :P A vastly over-over-rated ceremony.

And who is she/they? Never heard of them.

We were not discussing the ceremony, but the cauldron lighting. Athens, in terms of power, was IMHO vastly more affecting than what any host since has dished up (Torino, Beijing, Vancouver and London)

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We were not discussing the ceremony, but the cauldron lighting. Athens, in terms of power, was IMHO vastly more affecting than what any host since has dished up (Torino, Beijing, Vancouver and London)

Well, it was part of a rather lacklustre ceremony...thus my alluding to it is legitimate.

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I liked how the Athens cauldron came down to meet the lighter instead of the lighter meeting the Cauldron like in other games. The shot of it lit and rising again over the athletes below was stunning, kind of symbolised the flame blessing the athletes in some way.

London's was way too anti climatic for the occasion, especially after having it sped down the thames on a speed boat driven by David Beckham. And it did look stuck together like a school art project.

If you think about it London's flame was lit on seven petals which then lit the rest that rose up to make one small cauldron in the middle, which was then not seen for about a week, extinguished and moved and then lit by a guy on a crane and never to burn brightly over the Olympic park and city. That makes the flames of Barcelona, Sydney, Athens and Beijing, even Atlanta superior to me

Barcelona had the never before done, spectacular flaming arrow and burst of flames. Atlanta had the symbolism of Ali lighting. Sydney had the stunning waterfall and rising cauldron. Athens had the bowing of the cauldron to meet the torch and Beijing had the athleticism and power of the lighter running around the stadium. London had 7 kids lighting petals.

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So you agree with Athensfan, that the 2004 cauldron lighting was spectacular?

But the time it got to the cauldron lighting, I really didn't care. Actually, the blowing out of the cauldron at Closing was, for me, more whimsical. The lighting was just OK; I mean...no great shakes. The rising stairs was a copy of LA-1984, and anybody can make a stick bend down.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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