Premiere for Special Olympics Shanghai

Ideas & concept

AO Technology supports lighting designer Bob Dickinson

A magnificent opening ceremony attended by over 70,000 spectators and almost 7,500 athletes from 165 nations got the Special Olympics off to a spectacular start on the 2nd October in Shanghai. It was the first time the games for people with intellectual disabilities had been staged in Asia. This was the largest sporting event ever hosted in the Middle Kingdom and served also as a dress rehearsal for the Olympic Games, which will be held in Peking in 2008.

Don Mischer conceived and produced the sensational opening show to which “Bob” Dickinson’s intoxicating lighting design lent additional magic. For the equipping and implementation of the show, the internationally celebrated lighting designer relied inter alia upon A&O Lighting of Oyten, Dickinson and A&O Technology having worked together successfully on major projects on previous occasions, including the Super Bowl and the Grammy and Oscar presentation ceremonies.

For this production, the A&O team installed a total of forty-four FALCON® 7 kW searchlights in Shanghai Stadium – under somewhat trying circumstances. The building-up phase was nearing completion when problems with the power supply surfaced:the voltage was too low and fluctuated, moreover, under load by +/- 30V. The upshot was that the supply voltage fuses of four of the FALCON® searchlights, which are designed to protect the electronics from serious damage, were blown, so the fixtures had to be lowered and disconnected from the power network. After taking measurements at various times of the day and conducting an analysis of the data, it was concluded that the Shanghai power supply was simply incapable of meeting the requirements. With time ticking on, the team debated the merits of various solutions before deciding in the end to integrate stabilising power supplies in the system. After something like two days of extra work, they eventually succeeded in obtaining a voltage sufficiently high and stable to ensure the flawless functioning of the FALCON® systems.

The building-up and test phase was in full swing when the technicians of A&O Technology heard the warning, typhoon Wipha was approaching the Shanghai megapolis, so the installation and trials had to be interrupted while measures were taken to protect the lighting equipment from the approaching storm. These involved lowering the spotlight platforms and securing each spot with three 5t tension belts. The FALCON® systems in the roof were not lowered, since they were already securely attached to the superstructure. When the all-clear finally came, the technicians resumed their normal duties. “I am completely satisfied with this company,” commented Dickinson. “The crew are extremely obliging. Despite the problems with the power supply, the team from A&O Technology remained unfazed at all times. ‘Whatever it takes to stage the perfect show, we’ll find a way of doing it.’ was their watchword. You really couldn’t ask for more!”

The system installed by A&O Technology comprised thirty-two FALCON® BEAM spotlights flown at a height of around 65 metres as well as eight additional FALCON® BEAM and four FALCON® FLOWER fixtures serving as floor spots and positioned in the trench between the competition area and the spectators. Each truss was connected to a separate (Rackland) power supply, of which there were ten in all, so that the trusses could be manoeuvred individually.

The rehearsals for the show lasted ten days, allowing plenty of time for the 2,500 performers and the impressive battery of luminaries deployed in and around the stadium to become attuned to one another. “First off, the FALCON® BEAM searchlights were able to project tightly concentrated beams of light into the night sky, as my design required, and also deliver strobe effects; but far more important in large-scale, far-reaching productions are their functions, over which you have an exceptional degree of control. That’s why these luminaries are ideal for stadium shows and theatrical illuminations. The world has been crying out for reliable xenon searchlights. Now, with the FALCON® systems, I believe I’ve found the right light source.”

In the event, the work of dismantling the installation, for which 72 hours had been set aside in the schedule, had to be performed in two twelve-hour bursts, as the equipment was needed urgently for another major event in Germany. “I am very proud of the design,” says Dickinson, “and found it very rewarding working with Chinese, German and US lighting processionals to create what have been the most important and successful lighting designs of my career.”

LOCATION:

Shanghai, China

DATE:

October 2007

AO EQUIPMENT:

FALCON BEAM colour 7,000 Watt

FALCON FLOWER

LD:

Bob Dickinson, Full Flood

PHOTOS:

A&O Technology

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