Behind the Scenes: Projection Mapping at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies
The Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2022
The Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 symbolize the world’s largest sporting event. Panasonic contributed to the success of Tokyo 2020 by supplying, installing, operating, and maintaining a wide range of production and broadcasting equipment. In particular, projection mapping vividly colored by our PT-RQ50K 3-Chip DLP™ 4K laser projector captured the imagination of a global audience.
How was Panasonic technology and know-how used to develop, install, and operate the equipment that made this “can’t fail” mega-event possible? What kinds of issues were encountered in the field, and what solutions were innovated to solve them without interrupting the show? These are questions asked by professionals in the entertainment event, staging, and production industries, and we hope to answer them here with insight into the implementation of our projection-mapping solution at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
White Paper: How to achieve a “Never-Failing” historical event
The secret behind Panasonic’s support of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020
Panasonic has been supporting the spatial production to deliver immersive experiences starting from the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and during the sporting events at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. This White Paper introduces Panasonic’s technologies and solutions including privileged information, a good hint for realizing your masterpiece.
- Will It Change the World? Combining 50,000 lm1 Brightness in a New Space-Saving Design
- Japan Red on the World Stage: Challenges of Red Laser Implementation
- Countering Vibration to Maintain High-Definition Images
- Reducing Transport and Setup Effort According to On-Site Restrictions
- Completing Adjustment in a Short Timeframe Before the Show
- All-Panasonic Production Solution for the Entire Space
Will It Change the World? Combining 50,000 lm Brightness in a New Space-Saving Design
Panasonic's PT-RQ50K—the world's first Native 4K projector2 with 50,000 lm brightness—was used for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. A 10,000-square-meter projection area, significantly larger than at previous events, was requested within National Stadium, the venue for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. The simplest way to cover a larger area is to add more projectors. However, installation conditions were restrictive, so a bright and compact projection solution was needed.
Delivering ultra-high brightness from a compact body was a concept Panasonic pursued prior to Tokyo 2020 with the development of an all-new 50,000 lm projector. Customers who saw the first, larger prototype at exhibitions called the design “world-changing” if it could be scaled down to the size of our 30,000 lm model. Accepting the challenge, we managed to halve the size of the prototype.
PT-RQ50K was born just in time to answer the call for a compact, ultra-high-brightness projector for use at Tokyo 2020.
How We Combined High Brightness in a Compact Body
Japan Red on the World Stage: Challenges of Red Laser Implementation
Production staff agreed that the best PT-RQ50K demonstration was during a scene in the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony when crimson light was projected onto red ropes tethering a group of dancers, which resonated in an intensely vivid red to symbolize Japan.
One of PT-RQ50K’s defining characteristics is its ability to reproduce red vividly and accurately, a quality that Panasonic has sought to perfect for some time. Since the Olympic and Paralympic Games were to be held in Japan, and since red symbolizes the nation, the fruition of this color technology was timely.
Adding to the challenge of beautiful color expression, images were mapped over various surfaces such as concrete, metal, and glass, with each material affecting color reproduction differently depending on its composition. Extra projectors are usually added to compensate for loss in color brightness, however, Panasonic looked for ways to maintain image quality by expanding color reproduction range instead of adding more projectors. Red lasers suggested a promising solution.
The biggest difficulty in implementing red lasers is their sensitivity, with color tones changing according to operating temperature. Developing control technology to master this issue and to expand the color gamut was the starting point in our quest to realize unprecedented visual expression from the PT-RQ50K.
Countering Vibration to Maintain High-Definition Images
PT-RQ50K’s resolving power was proven during a particular scene for the Closing Ceremony of the Paralympic Games, where people’s faces were projected over the entire field one after another. The display impressed industry professionals with an outstanding sense of definition despite the large image sizes. Some commented on the improvement in resolution over a similar display at PyeongChang 2018.
Vibration is the enemy of image clarity when projection mapping at large-scale events. The slightest vibration through scaffolding or installation structure can result in considerable deviation in images projected hundreds of meters away. In order to fully exploit PT-RQ50K’s Native 4K resolution over the largest projection area in the history of the Olympic Games, developing effective countermeasures to resist vibration was vital.
Panasonic engineers focused mainly on increasing the strength of the lens mounter, but since the display element is almost twice as large as our 30,000 lm projector, and the lens heavier, developing a lens mounter with adequate stability was a challenge. If the fixing force was too high, smooth lens-changes would be more difficult, so a compromise that balanced vibration resistance with on-site usability was developed.
Definition Meets Usability: Anti-Vibration Technology in Detail
Reducing Transport and Setup Effort According to On-Site Restrictions
Panasonic installed about 60 PT-RQ50K projectors at National Stadium for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. A mandate limiting disruption to seating, equipment weight restrictions, and a prohibition on the use of cranes inside the stadium made transport and installation trickier than ever. Projection positions atop scaffolding towers on the fifth floor—the highest seating position in the stadium—were selected, and each projector was carried up and installed by hand. PT-RQ50K’s comparatively light weight and compact size made it possible to use ultra-high-brightness projectors in this situation.
How Innovation Solved Installation Problems
Completing Adjustment in a Short Timeframe Before the Show
Panasonic has long experience with projection at the Olympic Games. Tokyo 2020, however, was the first event where competition and Ceremonies almost coincided within the stadium with very little time between them. For the Olympic Games Closing Ceremony in particular, the interval between the conclusion of competition and the start of the Ceremony was used to set up stages and prepare the pitch for use as a screen. Projector adjustment had to wait until this phase was complete, leaving almost no time for calibration before the Ceremony commenced. Furthermore, late changes to production design and program content, such as changing field color in the performance and athlete seating areas, and illuminating the venue with light from the projectors, required further last-minute adjustments.
Despite the vast scale of the 60-projector system and the ambitious program design, Panasonic was able to adjust equipment very quickly thanks to a carefully planned and streamlined workflow made possible by PT-RQ50K’s advanced feature set, and Panasonic’s long experience with projection mapping.
All-Panasonic Production Solution for the Entire Space
The Opening and Closing Ceremonies not only fused the movement of digital projection mapping with that of the performers, but also combined video and sound for more dynamic expression. Panasonic elevated production with a holistic spatial production solution for the entire space, as only a manufacturer that provides professional equipment and know-how in the fields of both video and audio can do.
Making use of experience gained from our participation in Tokyo 2020, we will continue to refine our projection products and develop new technologies that support diverse video and entertainment productions such as those planned for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Beijing 2022, the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024, and other large-scale domestic and international events. We will continue to propose solutions that meet highly specialized video and entertainment needs.
This overview has shown how Panasonic projectors supported spatial production for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We have also compiled information and advice in a free White Paper that will be of use to customers who are planning new projector applications. It gives insight on equipment characteristics, shares installation and operation expertise, offers behind-the-scenes insight on our experience at Tokyo 2020, and suggests future prospects for technological development. We invite you to download this free White Paper via the link below.
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