When the Endless Entertainment team was watching the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremonies- we were drooling over the event planning and production elements which went into the spectacle. We started to think- how can we implement what they are doing at OUR events? So to find out how they made it happen, we went all the way to London to find out… okay, just kidding. We did however find a ton of information on how they pulled it all together. Keep reading to get the full, behind-the-scene scoop on the LED video screen at the 2012 opening & closing ceremonies.
It was a magical moment at the Olympic Games opening & closing ceremonies. The audience seemed to disappear – only to be replaced by a giant video screen engulfing the whole arena.
Today, the secret behind the effect has finally been revealed, and it was all down to 70,500 small ‘paddles’, each containing just nine high powered lights. The tablets were attached to seats inside the stadium to form what the organisers described as a ‘human powered’ screen. Each contained lights that could be programmed to display any colour – allowing organisers to create amazing video images as if each were a pixel in a TV screen. During the ceremony, the global television audience watched as it displayed everything from a giant Union Flag to undulating ‘waves’.
The firm behind the images that were displayed, Crystal CG, created a range of graphics including a computer generated image of the birth of the internet. Crystal CG said this was the first time the Pixel Tablets have been used on such a large scale. ’The audience literally became part of the action,’ said Will Case, creative director at Crystal. ’No longer limited by large flat screens, we were presented with the challenge of creating animations to bring the stage and the spectators together.
‘The live audience and those watching at home were drawn into the action. ‘We are witnessing the death of the traditional video screen – this will transform the way event content is presented in future, becoming a more immersive experience.’
Mr Case also confirmed the system will be used during the closing ceremony, and hinted that once again music will play a starring role, saying ‘the whole place is going to rock!’
Tait Technologies, which made the paddles, said the system required 370km of cabling. The cables were installed by a local crew of ten people in just five weeks. The total system installation took just ten weeks with five technicians and six local crew members. Because of the nature of its use over the eight week period of the Olympics, the system was installed as a permanent installation, and is expected to be used in the closing ceremony as well. ’The assembly of dispersed LED pixels to form very large video images has been with us for some time,’ said Frederic Opsomer, CEO of Tait Technologies, who drove the development of the new pixel device. ’But never before has it been done on such a scale, and with such organic animation.’
Tait also said the following on their website about the project:
By producing over 70,500 pixel tablets for the entire stadium seating grid, video emerged from its two dimensional world to become three dimensional, and the audience were integrated into the show in one of the world’s largest video screens. Each hand held video tablet contained nine LED pixels, all of which could be individually programed and viewed at angles of 180 degrees horizontally and vertically. Tablets are IP65 rated as well as being CE compliant. Tablets were installed systematically, with all tablets attached to a recyclable plastic holder and cabling connected to a control rack in each section. The structure runs on the Barco FLX system and large scale pixel mapping was carried out by Immersive/Avolites. Landscape video opens unlimited opportunities for the use of this type of large scale LED technology in stadium video displays and architectural environments. Content for the pixel tablet opening & closing ceremony was provided by Crystal CG International.
It’s okay if you had no idea what that just said, that’s what Endless Entertainment is here for.
A team of 50 designers from Crystal London delivered the content on the screen in 14 weeks. The first tests were performed in the Olympic Stadium on 10th July and a final test run was done at the dress rehearsals the week prior. Over 70 minutes of animations were all custom-designed for the concave, bowl shape of the 360˚ screen, and the company claims that requests for additional content were landing in the creative team’s inboxes up to the last minute.