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Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony


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It certainly doesn't tie in with the Firebird, but the mega-orrery look of it would fit in quite nicely with the final sequence of the ceremony, showing athletes as constellations.

But they still had to have a human lighter and connect it to the cauldron outside that would burn throughout the 17 days. So that's why I think they just backed away from this seemingly over-complicated idea from the get-go. And considering the woeful "flame-outs" they had on the relay (the Moscow Times stopped counting at 44..), I think it was like...let's get back to basics.

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But they still had to have a human lighter and connect it to the cauldron outside that would burn throughout the 17 days. So that's why I think they just backed away from this seemingly over-complicated idea from the get-go. And considering the woeful "flame-outs" they had on the relay (the Moscow Times stopped counting at 44..), I think it was like...let's get back to basics.

Yeah, but I can't help feeling there's also an element of resentment in the way it was eventually done, as if the pylon-cauldron was created without consulting the Ceremonies team.

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Yeah, but I can't help feeling there's also an element of resentment in the way it was eventually done, as if the pylon-cauldron was created without consulting the Ceremonies team.

Yeah, the pylon-cauldron outside was entirely out of the Ceremonies' domain. It was an OCOG's subgroup's baby. Like Atlanta 1996, the Ladies Auxiliary Committee of ACOG, went ahead with the project 1.5 years even before a Ceremonies team was chosen. So, yes, it was a fait accompli in both instances.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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  • 3 months later...

Production videos from creative contributors to the OC are gradually emerging on Vimeo (and occasionally being recycled for the plebs on YouTube):

First a couple from the opening alphabet:

- and one from the "development of Sochi" sequence after the parade:

Also, one of the folk who stood out in the cold waiting for the Cauldron lighting has put his footage on YouTube:

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  • 2 months later...

At last! A few decent clips from a spectator at the Sochi OC, courtesy of OlympicFlame2028.

Gert was seated at the south-east corner of the stadium, while most of the TV coverage was from the middle of the west side, and you can clearly see the sort of differences that made to the spectator experience. For example, in the opening sequence, the flying Russian landscapes were lit from the west, for the cameras, and virtually silhouetted from the opposite side; also note how, from an end of the stadium, the south-north progress of scenery and performers seems less dramatic, except for the moment when they first appear (also, at the end of this clip, the wide spacing between the tracks carrying the flying props makes the perspective of the Olympic Rings completely wrong from this angle):

And the last few minutes of this clip starkly illustrate how poorly the stadium spectators were served for the Cauldron lighting and fireworks:

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Interesting finds, JMark. /\ /\ Your astute observations too, highlight that Tsypin (and his team) were primarily proscenium conceptualizers -- not stadium thinkers. And even though it's much like a tableau (as the Klepsydra in 2004 was), but at least Sochi manifested it on a large, stadium-scale rather than the micro-print font Papaioannou went for. From this guy's seat, you could barely see that golden sun or moon.

Re the "Lighting" footage. When you take what is supposed to be the "visual and emotional" highlight of an Opening Ceremony away from the locus of the paying audience, then, yeah, it's an absolute post-climax. People who paid to see the Dress Rehearsal should not have felt cheated in this respect. And that "kaleidoscope" of white-lit "athletes" was another snooze idea. The OC ticket-buyers in Vancouver got a better deal in that at least they saw some sort of lighting happen right before their very eyes.

But then again, Tsypin and his team didn't ask me for my ideas of lighting the cauldron inside the stadium.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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But then again, Tsypin and his team didn't ask me for my ideas of lighting the cauldron inside the stadium.

If you could design the torch lighting for a San Francisco Olympics what would you have?

I like the idea of having a mobile platform for the torch that is lit in the stadium and then taken on a parade through the city before being taken to be installed in the Olympic Park. I'm not sure how viable that would be, though. It probably wouldn't be safe.

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If you could design the torch lighting for a San Francisco Olympics what would you have?

I like the idea of having a mobile platform for the torch that is lit in the stadium and then taken on a parade through the city before being taken to be installed in the Olympic Park. I'm not sure how viable that would be, though. It probably wouldn't be safe.

I won't even touch that one. Unless there is some realistic concept of how the stadium will eventually come out, I won't even go there. Besides, the above remark was rhetorical; and if I've had any ideas re the subject, I would only share them with parties who would realistically consider it. But thanks for asking. ;)

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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I think it was a lovely idea- but I got the feeling that, having invested so much in making it happen, the organisers allowed it to go on for too long.

But why just "white" lights? How about gold? Red? Blue? Green? A mix? That would've made it a little more vibrant than just those white silhouettes (if you want to call them that). Did the budget suddenly fall short? LOL!! :lol:

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But why just "white" lights? How about gold? Red? Blue? Green? A mix? That would've made it a little more vibrant than just those white silhouettes (if you want to call them that). Did the budget suddenly fall short? LOL!! :lol:

I took them as constellations, as, apparently, did the nice people at Russia's RT news (though again, it's notable in the spectator video that the effect only works against the near-unlit background opposite the main TV camera positions). My suspicion is that they were originally intended to lead into a different Cauldron lighting with more engagement for the stadium audience, but when that was ditched they were left with just the introduction, which they basically repeated to make it into a full segment- and that repetition really shows.starry.jpg

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I took them as constellations, as, apparently, did the nice people at Russia's RT news (though again, it's notable in the spectator video that the effect only works against the near-unlit background opposite the main TV camera positions). My suspicion is that they were originally intended to lead into a different Cauldron lighting with more engagement for the stadium audience, but when that was ditched they were left with just the introduction, which they basically repeated to make it into a full segment- and that repetition really shows.starry.jpg

They were obviously constellations (so I thought)...they were beautiful, and synced with the music to a big finale...

Then the torch ambled around the floor and then out the end of the stadium and the momentum was lost.

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They were obviously constellations (so I thought)...they were beautiful, and synced with the music to a big finale...

Then the torch ambled around the floor and then out the end of the stadium and the momentum was lost.

Yes.

I think I've suggested before that I got the impression of serious resentment in the way the cauldron lighting was handled- as if the creators of the show, having been refused permission to do their grand finale, decided that if they did something utterly lame instead, they could divert blame by saying that their original version would have been brilliant.

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Yes.

I think I've suggested before that I got the impression of serious resentment in the way the cauldron lighting was handled- as if the creators of the show, having been refused permission to do their grand finale, decided that if they did something utterly lame instead, they could divert blame by saying that their original version would have been brilliant.

Tsypin never told me that. He just said that because most of the show was already technologically and logistically complicated and challenging, they decided to end with something utterly simple. I took him at his word. (But my take is, they just ran out of time and also how to reconcile using recognizable 'athletes' with something so complicated and over-wrought as a mini-"Firebird" ballet-type sequence. Remember, they asked for 6 months to get used to the overhead gantry system. All they got was 6 weeks.)

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Tsypin never told me that. He just said that because most of the show was already technologically and logistically complicated and challenging, they decided to end with something utterly simple. I took him at his word. (But my take is, they just ran out of time and also how to reconcile using recognizable 'athletes' with something so complicated and over-wrought as a mini-"Firebird" ballet-type sequence. Remember, they asked for 6 months to get used to the overhead gantry system. All they got was 6 weeks.)

"Utterly simple" and classy would have been fine- but what they ended up with was just bathetic. And I'm not at all sure how much getting-used-to the rail-tracks would have needed. Unlike wires in an open stadium, their behaviour should have been pretty much 100% predictable unless the doors at both ends were open at the same time.

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"Utterly simple" and classy would have been fine- but what they ended up with was just bathetic. And I'm not at all sure how much getting-used-to the rail-tracks would have needed. Unlike wires in an open stadium, their behaviour should have been pretty much 100% predictable unless the doors at both ends were open at the same time.

I am giving them the benefit of the doubt. I just mentioned the time constraint on the overhead gantry as an example of the time crunch their whole program was on. And remember, they were working on and conceiving 4 Ceremonies...which is why I think the importance of more time on the rail system was crucial. Plus the fact that Sochi was a backwater in terms of being home to talent and show biz centers. Remember, they had to recruit and rehearse a lot of performers in Krasnodar; headliners had to come in from Moscow and St. Pete; and the major props were shipped/flown in from like 2 dozen other countries. So that is why they needed to settle in; and I think they had just run out of time conceiving another major lighting sequence. Not to mention that all of this was against the secret backdrop of part of the troops assigned to guard Sochi were also being secretly prepared to move against Crimea between the 2 Games.

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I am giving them the benefit of the doubt. I just mentioned the time constraint on the overhead gantry as an example of the time crunch their whole program was on. And remember, they were working on and conceiving 4 Ceremonies...which is why I think the importance of more time on the rail system was crucial. Plus the fact that Sochi was a backwater in terms of being home to talent and show biz centers. Remember, they had to recruit and rehearse a lot of performers in Krasnodar; headliners had to come in from Moscow and St. Pete; and the major props were shipped/flown in from like 2 dozen other countries. So that is why they needed to settle in; and I think they had just run out of time conceiving another major lighting sequence. Not to mention that all of this was against the secret backdrop of part of the troops assigned to guard Sochi were also being secretly prepared to move against Crimea between the 2 Games.

I'll play Devil's Advocate then. London had about the same length of time to test their big gimmick, the 360-degree audience pixels (and indeed all stadium visuals) in conjunction with the main lighting. Unlike Sochi, they were also using their stadium for actual sport once the OC was out of the way (and hence rehearsing performers elsewhere for the most part). However, I have to admit that the Prime Minister wasn't planning any not-really-invasions-honestly to coincide with the Olympic Truce.

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I'll play Devil's Advocate then. London had about the same length of time to test their big gimmick, the 360-degree audience pixels (and indeed all stadium visuals) in conjunction with the main lighting. Unlike Sochi, they were also using their stadium for actual sport once the OC was out of the way (and hence rehearsing performers elsewhere for the most part). However, I have to admit that the Prime Minister wasn't planning any not-really-invasions-honestly to coincide with the Olympic Truce.

Yeah, but nearly everything and everyone was in place in London (i.e., performers, most volunteers, staff, etc. went home to their houses) and London being one of the 2 or 3 centers of western show biz. Nearly all of the crucial elements that made Sochi happen (i.e., the production staff and lead talents) had to move to Sochi once Fisht was completed to put the complex show(s) together. Plus, Sochi had a lot of linguistic challenges to overcome (staffers from 17 countries) and coalesce into harmonious units. There weren't any of those challenges in London or Vancouver.

The pixels were nothing, i.e., they were just like extra strokes on the painting. It's NOT like they couldn't go on to the next act because, say, the turf from Green & Pleasant collapsed or Liz's parachute was stuck. Whereas, the "Floating Islands" or the MIR icebreaker were stuck on the way out in Sochi thus stopping the show, to use a pun, in its tracks.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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Yeah, but nearly everything and everyone was in place in London (i.e., performers, most volunteers, staff, etc. went home to their houses) and London being one of the 2 or 3 centers of western show biz. Nearly all of the crucial elements that made Sochi happen (i.e., the production staff and lead talents) had to move to Sochi once Fisht was completed to put the complex show(s) together. Plus, Sochi had a lot of linguistic challenges to overcome (staffers from 17 countries) and coalesce into harmonious units. There weren't any of those challenges in London or Vancouver.

The "linguistic challenges" thing is interesting because an industrialised country with a population of 140 million shouldn't really have neded so much outside help. I guess it was good that they chose to lean so heavily on the ballet tradition, because that meant they had a legitimate reason not to use a mostly-volunteer cast, and avoided the "high school musical" feel of London.

The pixels were nothing, i.e., they were just like extra strokes on the painting. It's NOT like they couldn't go on to the next act because, say, the turf from Green & Pleasant collapsed or Liz's parachute was stuck. Whereas, the "Floating Islands" or the MIR icebreaker were stuck on the way out in Sochi thus stopping the show, to use a pun, in its tracks.

Yes, that, in adition to the fundamental 2-dimensionality of movement, is another reason why the rail-track system may not catch on for future stadium spectacles.

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The "linguistic challenges" thing is interesting because an industrialised country with a population of 140 million shouldn't really have neded so much outside help.

Well, they wanted a world-class show; were willing to pay for it; and got it. At least they were honest (a lost Russian quality it seems) enough to sense that the best of the west could give them what they wanted. And I hope none of the foreign contractors were stiffed as in Delhi 2010.

From what I could gather, (most of) "Peter's cadets seguing into the War & Peace" ball was put together and rehearsed in Krasnodar. Apparently, Krasnodar has, like the 3rd most prestigious ballet company in Russia (with the numbers) & was founded by Yuri Gregorevich originally of the Bolshoi. So they used the Ballet school and I believe the various theatre companies of Krasnodar to also portray the Chekov family characters and Literature segment at Closing. A lot of the main dancers (young, shapely, attractive) for the Soviet society sequence were also drawn from professional dancer ranks.

The recreation of the 5 rings at Closing by the massive performers were given to the local Sochi volunteers. Notice that they were all draped in those amorphous shimmery, silvery costumes (to disguise the more polyglot, i.e., all ages, looks and sizes--so not necessarily tall, attractive and shapely persons -- composition) of the Sochi populace. The circus numbers were cast in Moscow or wherever their circus schools are. And then all the kids at the Finale I imagine, were all local schoolchildren.

Then they had to bring all of those far-flung contingents together right after New Year and tie them all into cohesive shows for February showtime.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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