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Barco lights up the Nanjing YOG opening ceremony

Barco, a global visualization leader, was selected as the exclusive projection and video processing provider for the opening ceremony of the second Summer Youth Olympic Games, held in Nanjing (China) on 16 August 2014. Sha Xiaolan, a well-known lighting design master in China, was the chief designer for the lighting and video at the ceremony. Using 112 Barco HDF-series high-brightness projectors and 56 High End Axon HD Pro media servers, he succeeded in creating the world’s largest stage projection, presenting a compelling visual feast to those watching around the world.

The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Nanjing are the second Olympic competition to be held in China, after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The extensible and movable scroll stage used in the 2008 opening ceremony was extremely impressive; however, the limits of the display technology at that time confined the picture to only a third of the available space. At this year’s opening ceremony in Nanjing, state-of-the-art video projection technology provided by Barco transformed the entire floor of the stadium into a giant canvas. According to Mr. Sha, the ceremony was the largest projection project of its kind in the world to date.

The opening ceremony explored three variations on the theme of ‘the Chinese Dream’: Chasing the Dream, Catching the Dream, and Realizing the Dream. Powered by Barco projectors, breathtaking spectacles such as the Dream Tower, in which more than a hundred young acrobats turned the site into a vast universe, and a wealth of ever-changing scenes were projected onto the stage, presenting the audience with a striking and immersive experience. To achieve this, 112 26,000-lumen Barco HDF-series projectors were deployed at the top of the bleachers on both sides. The projection area covered more than 10,140m2 at a projection distance greater than 120m.

In order to meet the director’s design requirements and realize the world’s most sophisticated projection mapping, the team had to take many factors into consideration, such as large-scale geometric correction, stitching and blending, multi-layer superposition, multi-point correction, and more. Barco used its unique SIMCAD virtual stage design software to pinpoint each location. The projection area was divided into 14 sections with 2×7 stitching and blending, and in each section, the same picture was projected by 8 projectors. Fibre-optic cable linked the 112 projectors to 56 sets of media servers, creating a projection on a scale rarely seen before in global application practices.

Thanks to the direction team’s perfect planning, the event’s comprehensive, stereoscopic, and up-to-date projection not only created a stunning stage performance but also achieved high cost efficiency. The opening ceremony involved extraordinarily complicated image processing. The 8-layer image superposition at a distance greater than 100m posed the most stringent requirements for image processing capacity and precise control. The Barco Athena processors built into the HDF-series projectors rapidly accomplished a set of multi-point geometry corrections, ensuring high image quality and facilitating an efficient process. What’s more, they eliminated the cost of purchasing additional equipment and simplified manual operations.

Mr. Sha was delighted with the setup’s performance, as he explained:

Barco’s projectors enable the powerful image processing necessary for this kind of large-scale stage performance. That gave us the confidence to avoid using large numbers of LED screens, which helped us realize greater cost efficiency.

Tang Feng, Barco’s Global Vice President and Managing Director for China, added:

Stage shows are increasingly making use of diversified cutting-edge technologies. The success of the YOG opening ceremony in Nanjing indicates that China’s stage design is in the vanguard, driving this technology. As a global leader in professional imaging, Barco has always maintained close partnerships with first-class stagecraft teams, at home and abroad, to keep us up to date on creative concepts and help us continually improve our professional imaging technology. We are very proud to have helped Mr. Sha’s team provide this striking visual experience and to reinforce our leadership in world-class stage imaging technology.