Projecting a World Class Commonwealth Games
Despite massive negative media coverage in the immediate run up to the Games, the critics were once again proved wrong and the event went ahead as planned. In the speeches at the Closing Ceremony the Games were declared a success not least due to the host nations impressive performance in the medal tables.
The Opening and Closing Ceremonies are the first and last opportunity for the organisers to show off their venues and set the stage for the Games themselves, providing the ideal opportunity for the host country to showcase its culture, history and civilization.
The centrepiece of both the shows featured a huge helium balloon, believed to be the largest of its kind, rising from the centre of the stadium, the underbelly of which provided a 360-degree projection surface. Images depicting the numerous facets of Indian history were projected on to the aerostat with many strands of this diverse country characterised in the aerostat visuals.
Creative Technology provided 32 Barco FLM R22+ projectors, double stacked in 16 pairs to provide sufficient brightness and back ups. The R22’s were selected in preference to larger 30k units as the slightly smaller machines offered a more cost effective delivery but with similar brightness and were believed to be more reliable in this type of challenging and unpredictable operating environment. The projectors were fed from a central control room over a fully redundant fibre network providing independent HD feeds to each pair of projectors and allowing for full network control of all projector functions.
Despite the challenging lighting conditions within the 60,000 seater stadium, the image intensity on the aerostat was more than adequate for both the audience in the Stadium and the massive global TV audience. The 16 pairs of projectors, positioned in the stadium vomitories and spaced equally around the venue, were driven by 16 channels of Watchout (each with a live back up machine). The Watchout system handled all of the blending and warping functions allowing a single seamless image to be displayed around the entire aerostat despite many of the projector positions being acutely “off axis”. Media content was created by a separately contracted production company based in Mumbai, much of which was not delivered until show day, making the challenge of progra mming the show even greater as much of it was not seen until live in front of the global audience.
CT’s decision to use a Medialon control system to track timecode and provide all show control functions allowed huge flexibility which proved invaluable with so much last minute content, minimal rehearsal time and a projection surface that changed shape and position with variations in temperature and weather conditions.
CT also provided a two camera HD production system. The cameras were used during rehearsal to allow the producers to get an impression of how the show would look, whilst the switcher was alsoconfigured to control the images on the stadium LED screens, selecting from a number of feeds from the host broadcaster and local playback.
The 16 crew, who were on site for eight weeks and lead by CT Project Manager Nick Whitehead, had to deal with some of the most difficult circumstances the company has ever faced. The team were alsotasked with installing all of the power and fibre cabling throughout the stadium and dealing with freight, accommodation and all of the health and safety challenges that working in India can create.
The Closing Ceremony raised a whole new set of obstacles with less than 48 hours allowed between the end of the sports events and the doors opening for the Closing Ceremony. More than 30 hours were needed to reinstall the aerostat and of the remaining 18 at least 12 were in daylight. Line up time was minimal but the end result was arguably more impressive than the Opening Ceremony largely due to improvements in the media content. Lessons had been learned from the Opening!
Nick Whitehead was delighted at the results of the eight-week project. “As CT London’s largest ever single event contract, it was fabulous to see everything coming together despite the technical and environmental challenges we encountered. Our previous experiences in India with the IPL and with other major ceremony projection projects in such as those in Athens and China has stood us in good stead and we look forward to building on all these projects in the future.
“Special thanks must go to our Production and Content Manager, Dave Boeck, our Project Engineer, Anthony Bezencon, and to Michael Tuitt who managed our Production Unit and Video Switching.” Dave Crump CT’s Managing Director concludes. “This was without doubt one of the most difficult and demanding projects we have ever undertaken. The team from CT along with some fantastic freelancers and sub-contractors did an amazing job in the extremely difficult circumstances. If ever there was an example of a handful of extremely competent suppliers, largely from Europe, pulling together to make it happen this has to be it. The end result did look pretty spectacular and all involved should be very proud of what was achieved.”