Pyeongchang 2018

Behind the Scenes at the Olympic Games

Behind the Scenes at the Olympic Games Opening/Closing Ceremony in the intense cold supported by the latest technologies and precise operation

Photo of the tower of light that emerged in the middle of the arena at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games Closing Ceremony
Photo: Patrice Bouquniaux, ETC (partner company)

Patrice Bouquniaux
Operation partner ETC
On-site supervisor

Photo: Jace Oh, POCOG ceremony official

Jace Oh
POCOG ceremony official
Ceremony director

Photo :Shuji Teranishi

Shuji Teranishi
Panasonic Connected Solutions
Media Entertainment Business Division

The opening ceremony raises anticipation over the start of the Olympic Games to the maximum. The Closing Ceremony is a time to celebrate the efforts of all competitors as excitement from the Games continues to reverberate all around. As at the Rio 2016, Panasonic played a major role in these grand ceremonies which live on as a lasting impression of each Games and, as such, leave no room for failure. It is because of the many new technologies behind the images and the consideration that Panasonic gives to smooth, safe, and stable operations even in outdoor conditions with freezing temperatures and strong winds, that people are left with so many inspirational scenes that become etched in their memories.

Ever brighter, ever crisper Laser projector development

Following on from the Rio 2016, Panasonic once again played a vital role in supporting the ceremony operations through our video technologies at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games. For Panasonic, it was highly important to utilize the experience of the Rio 2016 and challenge ourselves to create something even greater to help the Opening/Closing Ceremony live long in the memory. This led to the full-scale introduction of high-brightness, laser projectors at the Olympic Games Ceremonies.

At the Rio 2016, just one high-brightness laser projector was used on an experimental basis. This then led to the development of commercial products offering 30,000-lumen levels of brightness. Shuji Teranishi of Connected Solutions Company, Panasonic Corporation, who worked on these projectors, told us about this process.
"A key development theme for our laser projectors toward the PyeongChang 2018 Opening/Closing Ceremony was to increase the brightness further and create more powerful pictures. It goes without saying at Panasonic that we should pursue better brightness, picture quality, and color reproduction, but our team of engineers led the way toward combining this with the stability, lightness, and compactness that a laser light source can provide."

Panasonic can cut times needed for installation and adjustment

At the PyeongChang 2018, Panasonic supplied 80 of our newly-developed, 30,000-lumen class PT-RZ31K laser projectors. These not only offered better picture quality than conventional lamp projectors, but also a more lightweight, compact design for use at the Olympic Games. At events like the Olympic Games, the ability to save time needed for installing the equipment is highly important. Panasonic's compact, lightweight laser projectors can be installed in a shorter space of time, which then allows for more rehearsal time ahead of the long performances at the opening ceremony.

Grand performances like those we see at Olympic Games Opening/Closing Ceremony now depend upon projection mapping technology. This requires a high level of quality to achieve the necessary grade of picture. Professionals from the video industry come from all over the world and are very strict in their appraisals. Teranishi spoke about this.
"At the Opening/Closing Ceremony, we need to make an awful lot of adjustments in picture quality to suit each different scene. You could say that one of our strengths at Panasonic is the adjustment functionality we have cultivated in our projectors over many years to achieve this vital picture quality adjustment. The technologies that we have accumulated will continue to be reflected in our products."

Stable operations in intense environments – a step toward the Tokyo 2020

The Winter Olympic Games is said to be a battle against the cold. PyeongChang in particular sees February temperatures drop to minus 20°C. At the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, the projectors were installed in five rooms known as "cabins." The temperature inside the cabins fell below freezing and close to the outdoor air temperature, but once the projectors are switched on, the room temperature rose to some 45-50°C. This temperature discrepancy was greater than that anticipated in the testing stage and had an impact on picture quality requiring fine adjustment. Amidst their already busy adjustment work, the Panasonic staff needed to ensure that the temperature gap was not so extreme by quickly deploying heaters and ventilation initiatives.

Patrice Bouquniaux is an on-site supervisor for Panasonic's operations partner ETC, and he trusted Panasonic to make the right response. "When you work on major events like this, projectors in particular are deployed to their maximum levels of performance. Large-scale outdoor displays like this require the absolute highest levels of technology. And what makes this possible is strong collaboration with the engineers. The world class engineers who were also involved at the Rio 2016, together with other staff members who possessed a similar level of technical expertise, came together to make these performances possible despite the extreme conditions."

These efforts made a success of the emotional ceremonies at the PyeongChang 2018 despite the intense cold. The next Olympic Games at the Tokyo 2020 will be a battle against intense heat.  Teranishi told us about his thoughts toward 2020.
"It was a major achievement that our projectors were able to operate stably in the intense environment of PyeongChang. At the next Olympic Games at the Tokyo 2020, we want to advance both our technologies and ourselves to create even more powerful images; and to share our knowhow to deliver emotion to people around the world."