The Technology Behind the Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremony

BehindScenes_Sochi2014

If you’re anything like us, you were not only excited to see the Olympics opening ceremony last week, but thrilled with the amount of video technology that was incorporated into the show. Not only was video incorporated, but it was arguably one of the largest artistic elements used outside of the hundreds of characters involved in the production. They turned the arena floor into a massive projection screen. Additionally, images were projected onto set pieces on the floor and flying through the air. The costs for the Sochi Olympics were the highest ever, an estimated $50 billion. (Over $20 billion more than the Beijing games.)

 CREATING AN ATMOSPHERE

pic 2In addition to the projection elements, production designer Konstantin Ernst, pushed the envelope and used LED technology in each seat to incorporate the audience into the experience. Similar to the concept used in the London games, each seat in the Fisht Stadium had a cloth bag containing a faux Olympic medal that was an LED element. This could produce different colors and had a sensor to follow along to the beat of the music playing during specific times of the show.

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pic3It’s truly amazing what can be accomplished when old and new pieces of technology combined with one of a kind performances and dizzying special effects are brought together to transform an environment.

SCENIC ELEMENTS

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Probably one of my favorite elements were those suspended on over 2.85 miles of chain from the arena grid. These elements, some much larger then balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade stretched from floor to ceiling, end to end, in order to tell the story of Russia. During this part of the performance, there were auxiliary projectors shooting across the images adding content and textures.

In addition to the scenic pieces, one of my favorite times of the opening ceremony was when there were wire sports figures illuminated and suspended throughout the entire performance area over a sea of cosmos projected onto the floor.

2014 Winter Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

PROJECTION

While all of the production elements were amazing, the primary projection element was not to be undone.

Here are the details on how the production took place.

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Projection:

  • 120 Projectors for main floor – 20k projectors.  (Our friend in the industry said that it was Christie Brand, Likely the S+20k or the D4K2560)
  • 12 additional 20k projectors used for areas outside the floor…. air, front, etc.
  • 60 on each side. edge blended on entire surface!
  • Overall Olympic Budget: 50 billion dollars (Bejing was only 30 bil)
  • Size:
    • Floor Size: 160ft x 550ft
    • 88,000 sq feet of projection.

Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremony OLYMG112

Everything about the night revolved around “lights” it seemed. This idea of loss of perception because there was “light” everywhere. From the projection and the LED lights, to the theatrical pieces, and the faux medals in the crowd, the arena was awash in light. If you haven’t had an opportunity to see the opening ceremony, you’ll want to make sure you see it soon! 

So, what was your favorite part of the Opening Ceremonies?

MORE PICTURES

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Author Tim Southwick

Tim is the Brand Manager for TripleWide Media. He has 10 years experience in the event management world and has a strong desire to see visuals and media used to increase the user experience.

More posts by Tim Southwick

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Herman says:

    Where were the projectors located so that the performers did not cast shadows on the arena floor and obscure the projected images?

    • hibbidydibbidy says:

      In the 4th picture down above it looks like at least 7 projectors making each of those squares. If they are spaced right and overlap enough it would greatly reduce shadows. There were times when I could see some shadows from the performers but with 120 projectors it would be likely they’d hit most of the images from more than one angle to avoid noticeable shadows.

      In the bottom picture there are noticeable shadows from the people, especially towards the edge of the floor. But you really have to stop and analyze the video to spot them.

  • ThomasMonks says:

    I understand that the entire floor was covered by 60 projectors on one side of the arena (edge blended/tiled). The exact same images were projected from the opposite side of the arena and blended / tiled exactly the same. Yes there were shadows, BUT it was only a -3dB reduction, NOT 100% reduction as the image was coming from 2 places.

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