The Technology Behind the Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony

The Technology Behind the Rio Olympics

The Technology Behind the Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony

Projection Mapping is a topic we have discussed at depth here on TripleWide Media. Whether you refer to it specifically as pixel mapping, projection mapping, or environmental projection, they all encompass the same general principles. I would argue that the Rio Olympics did a phenomenal job of utilizing projection technology to tell stories, transform an environment, and engage the local and television audience in a spectacular manner.

Most opening ceremonies are opportunities to tell the story of the home country. Utilizing technology, art, creative design, actors, and more have given producers a massive canvas, usually accompanied by a massive budget, in order to tell that story. Rio was a bit more unique in that they were limited in budget (comparatively to other games) to be able to tell their story.

Of course a multi-million dollar budget seems large, when in reality, paled in comparison to that of London in 2012 or Beijing in 2008. That is where projection was able to take a starring role in crafting the environment, changing the mood and tone with the click of a mouse while incorporating story, scenic elements, music, and theater to tell the overall story.

So, how did they do it? From a technical perspective, projection, lighting, and pyrotechnics came together to create an event worthy of the international audience. Here are some of the specs that we have gathered (so far) to show what can be done when a major event has a big budget limitation.

Technical Details


Along side the stage design and overall setup, the production relied on Panasonic PT-DZ21K2 3-Chip DLP Projectors – 109  20,000 lumen projectors to map the floor, moving set pieces, and end stage setup used during the opening ceremonies.


To support the projection mapping setup, lighting included a variety of moving fixtures, LED fixtures, and more as detailed below.

  • ARRI Compact HMI 2.5Kw Fresnel (4)
  • CP Alpha Beam 1500 Mover (130)
  • CP Alpha Profile 1500 Mover (194)
  • CP Mythos Mover (152)
  • CP Sharpy Mover (260)
  • CP Sharpy Wash Mover (120)
  • Cyrano Follow Spot (4)
  • Lancelot Follow Spot (10)
  • Lycian SuperArc Follow Spot (4)
  • Mac 2000 Wash XB Narrow Lens Mover (120)
  • P-2 SGM LED Wash(100)
  • P-5 SGM LED Wash – various degrees (167)
  • Q-7 SGM RGBW color LED flood blind strobe (180)
  • T-Light Strobe Light (10)
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Hopefully this gives you hope that having a budget isn’t a bad thing. It forces you to think creatively and consider alternatives to what you may have originally wanted to do.

Need some help? Drop us an email and let’s collaborate on great ideas for your next event.

Tim Southwick

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.

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