The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 featured an exhilarating performance of light and color through Panasonic's projection mapping technology. Let’s explore the technological wonders Panasonic had up its sleeve and how it overcame the unique challenges posed by the global pandemic to help create an amazing the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Breathtaking Light and Color: Augmenting the Opening Ceremony with Projection Mapping
The innovative art of projection mapping sees digital effects cast onto surfaces and objects to enhance them with surreal colors, patterns, and images. Building off Rio 2016 and PyeongChang 2018, Panasonic once again took projection mapping to the next level in its homeland of Japan.
The Opening Ceremony on July 23 filled the Olympic Stadium floor with an immersive, spatial light show courtesy of Panasonic projection mapping technology, complementing the actions of a jaw-dropping parade of dancers and performers. The same technology was used to further amplify the athletes’ grand entrances into the Olympic Stadium, with yellow light creating a lane that they walked down on and lights from four directions putting them even further into the spotlight.
One of the most talked-about examples of Panasonic’s projection technology prowess was the pictogram performance, where costumed performers cleverly used their bodies to create pictograms that represented the 50 disciplines that would be in this year’s Olympic Games. Projection mapping was used at the ending of the performance where the pictograms appeared one by one, creating a truly impressive and memorable scene that took social media by storm.
These stunning performances were achieved through the power of Panasonic’s revolutionary 50,000 lm RQ50 projectors. The opening ceremony marked the first time the RQ50 projector was used in an Olympic ceremony, acting as the ultimate showcase on the world’s largest stage.
Compact Yet Powerful: Designing the Perfect Projector for the Olympic Games
Panasonic’s new RQ50 projectors boast 4K resolution and a brightness roughly two times greater than those used in PyeongChang 2018, creating deep, radiant, and crystal-clear images. Able to cover a massive area, a single RQ50 projector can achieve the same effect as multiple previous generation units. This reduced the number of necessary units, requiring less time and people during set up.
Another notable feature is the vivid production of red hues, a difficult color to render well for most conventional projectors. For this, Panasonic built a brand-new monochromatic laser yielding a stark red equaling the intensity of other colors. Coincidentally, “Japan red” was one of the most notable colors featured at the Opening Ceremony, making the time and effort spent on this upgrade undoubtably worthwhile.
The projector’s incredibly compact size is also noteworthy, as it is the smallest 50,000 lm projector in the world. This feat of engineering came about because of a lack of space in the Olympic Stadium’s projection tower, which meant that the use of larger projectors was unfeasible. Panasonic was reluctant to compromise on function in favor of size, even though an increasingly powerful projector would naturally require more parts. Through the ingenuity of Panasonic engineers, these problems were circumvented by removing the large support poles of the previous model in favor of a sleek frame design, which maintained sturdiness while providing ample room for individual components. Over half of the nearly 4,000 inner parts were also redesigned to retain function with minimal change in size.
One additional issue rose from the open-air, partially exposed design of the Olympic Stadium, which threatened the delicate projectors with the prospect of bad weather. While the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium was fitted with specially designed booths to keep equipment safe against rain and snow, the breezy design of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium meant that the risk of collapse from wind was too great for such booths. This made finding a different way to securely waterproof the projector against the rain during the typhoon-prone Japanese summer of utmost importance. Unlike the complex reengineering solutions described above, here the Panasonic team went back to the basics and wrapped each projector in a plastic film by hand. Thankfully, the Opening Ceremony was met with mostly pleasant weather, allowing Panasonic to put this worry aside and concentrate on the show itself.
Planning Through Trial and Error: Crafting an Opening Ceremony in the Face of COVID-19
Panasonic’s involvement in the Opening Ceremony was far from easy, with pressing issues that would once have warranted careful deliberation having to be dealt with on the fly. This included differences of opinion between overseas and Japanese staff, rigid venue restrictions, and having to find alternative solutions to the inability of foreign engineers to enter Japan due to the pandemic. To solve these issues, Panasonic had to step up and play a critical role in many areas it had never ventured into before.
Regardless, Panasonic and its creative team stayed motivated under these strenuous conditions, striving to design a performance that would wipe away the troubles of the time. Being an event like no other, the honor of participating in the Olympic and Paralympic Games to spread joy and amaze the world was more than satisfactory enough.
Stay Tuned for Even Grander Performances in the Future
The effort that Panasonic poured into ensuring an unforgettable Opening Ceremony was truly outstanding. While circumstances have made virtually every step a new challenge, Panasonic worked harder than ever before to deliver an awe-inspiring performance on a scale yet unseen on the Olympic stage. Panasonic hopes to continue in the forefront of the new digital era brought about by the pandemic, using the latest technologies to create even more spectacular and inclusive events in the future. With a goal of constant innovation, all eyes are on Panasonic to see exactly how it will step up its game for the Olympic Games to come.