The Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010 relied more heavily on screen content that any other Olympic ceremony. The emphasis for these ceremonies was on artistic expression, so the creative vision of David Atkins was to create an intimate, theatrical series of artistic expression pieces.

The screen configuration and content replaced large sets and theatrical props, and it was left to this content to create the atmosphere and uniquely different environment for each section of the show.

Whales: Arguably the most loved section of the Opening Ceremony, Spinifex created 3D whales that elegantly swam across the stadium floor, composited into an icy blue pacific ocean. As the whales breached, they triggered physical waterspouts pre-set into the stadium floor.

Green Cathedral:
The design challenge of this piece was that all content needed to be created in the style of a famous Canadian artist, Emily Carr, without actually using any of her artwork. This was also the section that relied the most on the screens working together as one scenic piece.

The content constantly flowed up or dripped down each screen, creating a continuous transferal of energy.

Field of Dreams: No Opening Ceremony is complete without a flying moment. But using the most technically advanced flying rig allowed this boy to twirl and somersault in arcs of any trajectory across the stadium. The beauty of this moment was that as he lowered and touched the stadium floor, windows of wheat appeared as if by the magic of his touch. The windows then created a field of softly waving wheat, which ultimately broke into a thousand flying geese.

Peaks: The 360 degree mountain screen draped from the various rigging points created a surface that was very hard to design for. The section required very large matte paintings to show the Rockies forming and being covered by snow, as well as motion graphics that spiraled from the stadium floor into and up the mountain. This piece was part of a frenzy of light and action, and provided the climax of the opening ceremony.

White Ceremony: This segment required a video to play on the stadium floor and circular ceiling screens while the French Canadian singer Garou performed on stage. Design was everything, and a variety of techniques were used to create a torch runner made of ink as he ran across a watercolour landscape featuring iconic cities around the world.

This ceremony saw the first use of full video projection on a stadium floor, requiring content to work on a large scale and with a viewing audience of 360 degrees as well as varying heights in the tiered seating.

This floor projection worked with six vertical screens that raised up from the floor of the stadium 30 metres high until it linked up with 3 circular screens at the ceiling of the stadium.

Our challenge was to not only sync the media as it flowed across these surfaces, but also to create storytelling that touched the audience.

  • A total of 60 minutes of content
  • A variety of screens: stadium floor projection, vertical 30 metre high screens, 3 x 360 degree circular screens, 6 x 20 metre high vertical screens, 3 x circular podiums and one massive 360 degree draped mountain screen
2D: Matthew Lock, Gilad Arazi
3D: Pepin Portingale, Nathan Rule