Wednesday, February 5, 2014

All Access Pass: Final Preparations

2 Days to go!

Last night, our final complete run of the Opening Ceremonies took place, and it went immeasurably better than our initial full dress rehearsal last Saturday.   All of the major technical issues have been resolved and now we are ready to begin the XXIInd Olympic Winter Games in grand fashion.

We still have some small details to work out, some costumes are still being constructed, and some of the visual effects will need to be ironed out as well.  In previous posts, I mentioned some of our tricks to putting on a show of this magnitude.  Every performer has ear buds and are listening to radio channels throughout the ceremony.  They immediately hear commands and reprimands during the performance.  It's actually quite funny to listen to without watching the show, as you hear three languages of people panicking about strange things.  In the picture below, I zoomed up on a group of people frantically soldering hundreds of costumes in the hours before our live dress rehearsal.  Everything is magnified: the number of actors, the size of props, and the size of problems. 

These ceremonies are primarily intended to be enjoyed by a television audience.  Camera angles and lighting are incredibly important and have required many hours of testing and re-testing.  Pyrotechnic devices are used extensively throughout most Olympic ceremonies of late, and it is difficult to test or practice these and their cooperation with a musical score without actually going through the actual show at full scale.  Our practice fireworks displays are larger than some of the largest fireworks shows I have ever seen.  Of course, after the production, I will be able to talk about all the little details - some you will recognize, and some are hidden secrets.

Because the ceremony is intended for the camera, the lighting and visual effects are primarily intended for those on one side of the stadium.  This is yet another reason that it will be easier to view this colossal event on TV than in the stadium.  Sometimes, if you are sitting on the wrong side of the stadium, you may only see the backside of props or special effect.  Thankfully, this is only the second time an Opening Ceremony will be performed in a dome which allows for some incredible feats of ingenuity.  Not only is it a dome, but it is specially made just for this production.  What's our secret?  You will find out in the very first segment!  My one wish for you is that unlike the American telecast of the London 2012 ceremonies, which was filled with ridiculous banter, I hope NBC will save most of its commentating only for when it is necessary.

You still have time left to check out some previous Olympic ceremonies or go through my list of the top 4 in history.  I may have to add one more to the list in 2 days!

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