the 2004 OlympicGames
TPi highlights the creative and technical achievements of some of the individuals and companies who contributed to the production of the stunning opening and closing ceremony visuals at this summer’s Games in Athens.

The 2004 Olympics turned out to be the highlight of the year for PRG Europe – the company formerly known as VLPS Lighting Services and now part of the Production Resource Group.

Upon being contracted by Jack Morton Public Events to supply the required lighting hardware and crew for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Games, PRG nominated LDs Eletheria Deko and Bob Dickinson, assisted by Theodore Thsevas, followspot caller Ted Wells and Andy O’Reilly of PRG Los Angeles as moving light LD.

PRG worked with Senior Technical Director, Adam Wildi and Technical Director Technology, Nick Eltis assisted by Technical Production Manager, Angela Honeyman.

The ceremonies were produced by Jack Morton Worldwide headed by Lois Jacobs, President of Jack Morton Worldwide International, presiding over a production and creative team totalling over 400 people. PRG liaised with Production Electrician Nick Jones, (working for Jack Morton Public Events) and Project Co-ordinator Jason Trowbridge of PRG Los Angeles.

The lighting was divided into three main areas: the roof inner and outer, the balcony rail and the field of play. PRG Europe’s involvement consisted of supplying 220 VL2415 wash luminaries, 120 VL5 wash luminaries, 164 VL7B spot luminaries, six Parabolic Lightning Strikes and 216 VL3000 spot luminaries together with 18 Robert Juliat Cyrano followspots, subcontracted from PRG Europe’s Greek dealer Enttech SA.

In addition to the show lighting element, PRG Europe was contracted to provide the architectural lighting system which was used highlight the fantastic features of the stadium. This included the two gigantic arch sections which supported the entire roof and stadium. This rig was made up of 96 VL2416 and 126 VL5Arc wash luminiares. The architectural lighting was also used to illuminate the stadium for the evening athletics events during the run of the Games.

As moving light LD, Andy O’Reilly worked with the three programmers – Mark ‘Sparky’ Risk, Christian Hibbard and Mark Butts – using three Virtuoso VX consoles which were backed up by an additional three Virtuosos. Two Virtuoso DX consoles were used for remote focusing. Risk controlled all the VL7B, VL3000 spot luminaries and some additional LED fixtures; Hibbard ran all the MAC 2000 wash lights, and Butts ran the VL2415 wash lights plus the Space Cannons.

The entire Ethernet network, DMX 512 cabling systems and the mains distribution systems were designed and co-ordinated by Jason Trowbridge who worked in close partnership with Nick Jones. The lighting gaffers were Greg Hamlin and Mark Carver. They were joined by four lead technicians from PRG Europe, PRG Los Angeles and German-based Procon. Twenty other technicians were supplied between PRG and Procon who also supplied the 26 follow spot operators.

The vast majority of lighting equipment was supplied from PRG Europe, co-ordinated by Peter Marshall. Half of the Vari*Lite system was supplied through PRG Los Angeles, co-ordinated by Susan Tesh who also liaised with LD Bob Dickinson.

When Stage One Creative Services designed, built, rigged and operated all the complex flying sequences and the giant lake that filled the centre of the arena at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens Games, it contributed some staggering statistics to an already mind-boggling effort.

A total of 57 kilometres of varying diameter wire cable was used for the aerial cable net for the flying sequences; 72 hoists; 2 Megawatts of power just to run the automation system; 2,162,000 litres of water covering 9,645 square metres filled the lake; 480 power amplifiers for the audio system; and 800 two-way radios using 44 different channels.

Stage One’s adaptability was apparent as designs evolved throughout pre-production. “Initially, we intended to use the roof to support the 18 separate cable trajectories radiating from the central hub,” said Jim Tinsley, Technical Director, “but instead we designed our own custom towers to support the net.”

Brought in to work on the project by Adam Wildi, the project’s Senior Technical Director, Stage One worked in partnership with Jack Morton Public Events. Tinsley worked as the technical consultant for the event, co-ordinating the work of a number of other companies contracted by Jack Morton for the ceremonies.

No one who saw the spectacular opening ceremony could fail to be impressed as the 17.3 metre high Cycladic head rose from the lake to be lit up by a laser light display courtesy by Tarm Laser of Germany with projection by Creative Technology.

The head then broke open to reveal first the Kouros figure then broke again to reveal the Classical figure. Then as the 18 pieces that made up the head flew around the stadium a giant rotating cube complete with a live performer was flown. The closing ceremony was equally impressive with 35 performers being flown along with large LED rings – in a sequence designed in collabration with Flying by Foy.

“We worked out all the sequencing, movements and timing using 3D modelling and a computer animation produced by Gareth Lowe,” said Tinsley. “Then, once we had it right, we downloaded the animation program to the winch control computers and we were ready to go.” That all sounds very straightforward but there were constant revisions and changes. Producing the programming sequence took a team of six people working 12 hour shifts, 14 days to complete.

The combined weight of the sculpture structure approached 20 tonnes. 72 simultaneous winch movements were required to lift it and in order to ensure precise positional control of the 18 pieces of the Cycladic, Stage One designed and developed a positional control computer from scratch. Christened QPOS, it holds five separate macro sequences, each with up to 15 minutes of motion information at each winch point. “We see considerable commercial potential in this device,” said Mark Johnson, Stage One’s Joint Managing Director.

During the run up to the actual opening ceremony all 3 figures were rebuilt to form the Cycladic head; this was rebuilt five times, taking 38 man hours to do it each time. After two technical rehearsals, a pre-dress rehearsal, a dress rehearsal and, finally the opening itself where the whole sequence worked perfectly, surely Stage One deserves a gold medal too!

Le Maitre was contracted to provide some of the special effects for ceremonies. A team of six technicians flew to Athens, along with 20 confetti blowers and over 500kg of confetti, glitter and streamers. The Le Maitre crew spent five days setting up the equipment in the Olympic Stadium between midnight and 6am when the day’s events had finished, trained 20 local technicians to help operate the cannons, and took part in two full rehearsals.

The Chinese performance of the Beijing handover ceremony was given a dramatic finish using 15 of Le Maitre’s Electric Air Cannons to fire yellow streamers from inside a giant lantern.

The ceremony featured performances from some of Greece’s top singing stars. For Anna Vissi’s performance, four high-powered Venturi Cannons surrounded the stage and pumped out hits of white and light blue confetti and silver mylar. Over 3kg were used in each cannon for each cue, creating a fantastic cloud raining down over the singer throughout the song.

As the event progressed, both the athletes who partied in the centre of the stadium and the audience who surrounded them were showered with confetti and glitter pumped from 16 of the high pressure Turbo Blowers that are manufactured by Pyrotek. These blowers were chosen because they use high pressure CO2 to project the confetti to a high altitude, thus covering huge sections of the stadium with fast falling confetti on each cue.

The 2004 Olympics drew to a close with a final speech from members of the IOC and a last song from all the singers. Slow falling confetti created a beautiful rain effect across the stage using 12 riggers in the roof of the stadium to throw the confetti by hand, giving the Closing Ceremony the perfect atmosphere to conclude such an outstanding event.

Creative Technology was contracted by Sportsmark, the American event management and marketing agency, to provide a full technical staging service, including lighting, audio, video projection and indoor Barco iLite 8 LED display, during the Athens Games. The project was managed by Nick Whitehead (also LD) and Rob Merilees.

Six venues were used as hospitality suites for Sportsmark’s clients, including Visa, Xerox and Bank of America for the duration of the Games, with additional special events.

The lighting design incorporated effects from CT’s cutting-edge LED lighting inventory, including their latest acquisition – the Colorblaze 48 LED batten from Color Kinetics – and the Colorblast 12 fixture, which is extremely useful in view of its low power consumption and heat output.

The production get-in commenced in June. One of many challenges was the searing heat of the Greek summer, and the fact that the stadium was still being built as the technical production took shape. Two months of dedication, hard work and long days and nights of rigging and programming resulted in two world class shows which received global acclaim for their visual excitement and drama.

Australian company Norwest Productions teamed up with local Athens-based firm, Enttech S.A. (on behalf of Jack Morton Public Events), to deliver superlative audio for both Olympic ceremonies. Norwest’s design was based on EAW’s KF850 Virtual Line Array system supplemented by McCauley MLA3s for the upper decks.

The main EAW system comprised a total of 64 EAW KF860 and KF861 Virtual Line Array systems, and 36 EAW BH760 subs, which were ground-stacked in 32 arrays around the circumference of the bowl. Each cluster consisted of a KF860, a KF861 and a BH760. A further four EAW KF750 full range cabinets ground stacked singly (and partnered by a BH760) were deployed at either end of the stadium to widen the coverage of the KF860/861 arrays in order to penetrate behind the stages.

An additional 40 RCF ART300s were ground-stacked with each KF860 cluster for field monitoring purposes, while 12 EAW SM200ih dedicated monitor cabinets handled stage monitoring.

This system, which served the entire lower bowl area where most of the audience was seated, was provided by Norwest Productions almost entirely from inventory, with the exception of 20 BH760 cabinets that were purchased especially for the event and will be added to the 16 already owned. Norwest’s CEO and financial administrator for the project, Christopher Kennedy, was delighted with the results and explained how the choice of an EAW system was such a crucial element to the events’ success.

Kennedy said: “We had a huge area to cover, yet the system had to be physically discreet so as not to impede sightlines. We opted for the KF860/861 horn-loaded Virtual Line Array solution for the simple reason that there is no other product in the world that does what they do in clusters of two.

“To achieve the same pattern control and output using conventional line array technology would have necessitated an unacceptably tall array of a minimum of four and possibly even six loudspeakers per stack.

“As it was, we achieved superb results using just a two-cabinet array that met all of our requirements in terms of power output and audio quality, and yet remained physically unobtrusive. “We went for the BH760 subs because the Greek artistic director wanted to achieve a heartbeat sound effect that would be felt in the 80,000-seat stadium as well as heard, and BH760 is second only to the KF960 super sub for delivering what he wanted.”

Kennedy also pointed out that every critical system element (consoles, Optocore signal distribution, processing etc., also provided by Norwest) had one or more backup options. However, the reliability of the equipment ensured that not one of the backups had to be deployed either during any of the rehearsals or the ceremonies themselves.

“The entire system performed flawlessly from start to finish of both ceremonies,” remarked Kennedy, “for which we also have the crew to thank as well as the gear. Everyone did a great job, and a special mention goes to sound designer Scott Willsallen who put together a world class system.”

The sound reinforcement system was powered almost entirely by a staggering 280 Lab Gruppen fP6400s with a little help from Camco. Mixing consoles were a Yamaha PM1D at FOH and a PM5D on monitors, both with backups.

Thirty-six Shure PSM600 and PSM700 in-ear monitor systems were provided for solo performers and speakers, while 900 Sennheiser in-ear systems (supplied by Delta Audio in the UK) were used by the cast


Körper σημαίνει σώματα.

Και η Σάσα Βαλτς συνεργάζεται με 12 χορευτές για να δημιουργήσει το έργο της. 12 χορευτές σε συνεχή εναλλαγή κινήσεων. Τα σώματά τους και η αρχιτεκτονική, τα σώματά τους στο χώρο, στο ρυθμό, στην καθημερινότητα. Τι είναι το σώμα; Τι το αποτελεί;

Τον Ιανουάριο του 2000, η γερμανίδα χορογράφος έκανε με το Körper την πανηγυρική της είσοδο στη Σάουμπυνε του Βερολίνου. Με δεδομένο ότι η χορευτική τέχνη σχετίζεται εξ ορισμού με το σώμα, τι να σημαίνει η παράδοξη εμμονή της διάσημης έκτοτε βερολινέζας χορογράφου;

Με το Körper, πρώτο μέρος της τριλογίας «Σώματα» η Σάσα Βαλτς έρχεται για πρώτη φορά στην Ελλάδα, στο πλαίσιο του Φεστιβάλ Αθηνών. Θα το παρουσιάσει στην Αίθουσα Αλεξάνδρα Τριάντη, του Μεγάρου Μουσικής, στις 5 και 6 Ιουνίου, στις 9 το βράδυ.

Το έργο είναι μια παραγωγή της Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz (Berlin) σε συμπαραγωγή με το Théâtre de la Ville (Paris).

Γεννημένη στην Καρλσρούη το 1963 η Σάσα Βαλτς είναι χορογράφος με έντονη πολιτικοκοινωνική ματιά. Σπούδασε χορό και χορογραφία στο Αμστερνταμ και τη Νέα Υόρκη. Μια υποτροφία το 1992 την έφερε στο Βερολίνο, όπου ίδρυσε ένα χρόνο αργότερα την ομάδα της και όπου, από το 1999 ως το 2004, ήταν Μέλος της Καλλιτεχνικής Διεύθυνσης της Σάουμπυνε. Εδώ γεννήθηκε και η τριλογία της: «Körper» το 2000, “S” επίσης το 2000 και “nobody” το 2002.
Στο τέλος του 2004 η Βαλτς και η ομάδα της ανεξαρτητοποιήθηκαν και πραγματοποίησαν την πρώτη τους παραγωγή όπερας σε συνεργασία με την Ακαδημία Παλιάς Μουσικής της Κρατικής Οπερας του Βερολίνου. Πρόκειται για το «Διδώ και Αινείας» του Χένρυ Πέρσελ.

Σήμερα συνεχίζει να χορογραφεί, ενώ παράλληλα συνεργάζεται με διαφορετικών ειδικοτήτων καλλιτέχνες πάνω σε ένα «Διάλογο» για το χώρο και την αρχιτεκτονική του.

Η παράσταση
«Σ’ ένα σκοτεινό μονόχρωμο σκηνικό χώρο, που θυμίζει εν μέρει επιστημονικό εργαστήριο, αναδύονται οι εικόνες-σκηνικές δράσεις ενός χορογραφημένου πολύπτυχου για το πάσχον σώμα. Η σαρκική τοιχογραφία της έναρξης με σώματα γυμνά, εγκιβωτισμένα, που γλιστρούν ανεπαισθήτως και σε slow motion το ένα πλάι στο άλλο με κινήσεις τυφλές και μάτια κλειστά, μάς εισάγει δυνατά στο κλίμα της παράστασης.

Η χορογράφος ανατέμνει το επίμαχο ζήτημα χωρίς περιστροφές. Θέτει το ανθρώπινο κορμί στο μικροσκόπιο ως αντικείμενο, το εξετάζει εξονυχιστικά, χωρίς συναισθηματισμούς. Προχωρεί σε μια «σύγχρονη αποκαθήλωση» υπονομεύοντας την όποια ψευδαίσθηση για την εικόνα του σώματος που πλασάρεται. Το ανθρώπινο σώμα ως εμπόρευμα ζυγίζεται, κακοποιείται, βασανίζεται, νοθεύεται. Έχει τιμή, την κολλούν στο δέρμα οι χορευτές ενώ σχεδιάζουν με μαρκαδόρο τα εσωτερικά τους όργανα. Όλα αγοράζονται, όλα πωλούνται…

Το Körper, πρώτο έργο της τριλογίας της και μήτρα των μετέπειτα εξερευνήσεων με θέμα τη «σωματικότητα», τη φέρνει αντιμέτωπη με την ιστορία, με τη μνήμη του σώματος. Αν η αναπαράσταση του Ολοκαυτώματος είναι απλώς αδύνατη, τότε πώς μπορεί να πάρει σκηνική υπόσταση ο πόνος, η οδύνη, η εξόντωση;
(Κλημεντίνη Βουνελάκη, από το πρόγραμμα του Φεστιβάλ)

Η Σάσα Βαλτς δουλεύει πολύ με τους χορευτές της: «Όλοι οι χορευτές είναι σολίστ» λέει. «Και όλοι μπορούν να χορογραφήσουν. Δεν είναι μόνο ερμηνευτές – είναι δημιουργοί. Μένουν και δουλεύουν μαζί μας 4 και 5 χρόνια, ώσπου να μπορέσουν να δημιουργήσουν τη δική τους ομάδα κι εμάς μάς αρέσει αυτό, γιατί καλλιεργούν το ταλέντο τους μαζί μας….»

Και καλλιτεχνική γενναιοδωρία, λοιπόν, χαρακτηρίζει αυτή τη σπουδαία γερμανίδα χορογράφο, πράγμα σπάνιο για το σύγχρονο χώρο του χορού.