Projecting the Ceremonies, Part 2

David Atkins, executive producer for the opening ceremonies, said of the event, “We've been able to create a winter landscape; we've created vistas,” and anyone who watched the ceremonies was treated to some stunning evocations of the Canadian landscape: the towering mountains, windswept prairies, even a pod of whales swimming through BC Place stadium.

Photo Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Adkins went on to say in a television interview that “[we] used projection equipment to actually create a very controlled environment – outdoors we would never have had that control.‘Control' under these circumstances is a hard-won commodity. Video director/designer on this event for E/T/C London Paris Patrice Bouqueniaux sums up what he first thought on looking at the scale of the project, “Moving 3D objects and a roof that is not stable? Okay, it will be impossible to achieve that, but let's think about it.”

Patrice Bouqueniaux

Achieving that control meant monitoring the unstable ceiling of the venue, as well as the 3D objects. The air pressure-supported roof of BC Place has a heating system to melt snow, although Vancouver has been conspicuously snow-less so far. The entire rigging system for set and lighting for the ceremonies then had to be equal to, or less than, the weight of any snow the venue was designed to accommodate. The roof is also flexible enough to be moved in high winds and changes in air pressure, Bouqueniaux says, “The movement of the roof can be over one meter, so it can go from 40 meters to 41 meters in height.”

Overcoming this movement required a system that could track the movement of the roof, and the progress of the 3D objects, including the mountain, around the arena.

The mountain, made from ripstop for stability, had 1,300 mapping points and was tracked with E/T/C's Only View 3D version software. The ceiling was monitored with Stage One's Qmotion, and the two sets of information were combined.

The projections ran on timecode to synchronize with lighting and sound, and the end of each segment was looped to allow for slight variations in timing. One segment that was run manually shows a young boy who appears to run through the prairie, with the wheat blowing in the wind around him as he takes flight. The scene is a deceptively simple change of pace from the large scale, multi-performer set pieces, and Bouqueniaux says, “It was a segment full of poetry, but you don't hang someone at 30 or 40 feet high on timecode cueing, so it was cued manually." Although he won't pick a favorite moment, Bouqueniaux says, "It's the most beautiful 3D human fly I ever saw."

Projection crew included Yan Kaimakis, Sebastian Cartier Grenier, Nicolas Manichon, Pierre Yves Toulot, Patrick Lefevre, and Patrick Matuszek.

Read also: Projecting The Ceremonies, Part 1

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