Projections of champions


A thens recently warmed up for the 2004 Olympics by hosting the sixth International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) Championships at Panathinaikon Stadium, site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. This was the city's largest sports event to date, with 80,000 spectators and countless more watching almost 2,000 athletes from 200 countries. The entire event was on a grand scale, starting with the opening ceremony, orchestrated by Oscar-winning composer Vangelis and featuring performances by himself and Monserrat Caballe. France's ETC Audiovisuel supplied equipment for a projection system that used no less than 22 of its 5kW PIGI projectors.

The units all had double film scrollers (some of them rotary), lenses that varied according to application, and even motorized mirrors. PIGI software controlled up to 20 projectors, and storable cue parameters included cue name and number, position, and movement times for each film--these were saved in two different registers to create an effects library. An interface enables Electrosonic and Dataton controllers to work with the PIGIs.

Projectors were mounted on two "bridges" along the length of the stadium behind the top seats. Eight rotary double-scroller projectors, fitted with 800mm and 1,000mm long-throw lenses, were used on two 164'x 33' (50x10m) screens mounted on each side of a rear-projection screen behind the stage. Four were fitted with mirrors, enabling images to be beamed onto the crowds. The 14 non-rotary projectors were used to cover the stadium floor with cross-fading 90'-wide (27m) images via normal double scrollers with 330mm lenses.

Vangelis called in Canadian projection designers Paul and Elisabeth Souverbie, who have worked on his shows for many years, to develop the Athens ceremony. Projections for the show paired traditional Greek dancing with antique jewels, statues, vases, and friezes; Vangelis' performance (including "Chariots of Fire") with mosaics, fire and water; and Monserrat Caballe's performance with veils and paillettes.

"The PIGI system was chosen for its precision, power, luminosity, and programming possibilities," Paul Souverbie says. "Each film used on the double scroller system can have 150 images, which were produced by Elisabeth. Most of the ground-projected images were produced using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to correct the distortion caused by the projection angle."

Souverbie is developing mega-projections in North America.