Feature: Beijing conjures Olympic opening epic with high technology
www.chinaview.cn 2008-08-09 02:18:28   Print

    BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Chinese gymnast Li Ning's lighting of the Beijing Olympic cauldron, after "space walking" around the inner wall at the top of the 91,000-seat National Stadium, was a perfect finishing touch to the dazzling opening epic of the Beijing Games.

    Li was suspended by wire and lifted in the air for the "space walk". Images of worldwide torch relay were projected on the screen before he used his torch to light a wick that led to the cauldron.

    Directors of opening ceremony employed high technologies to conjure a magic, dreamlike start of the 29th Summer Olympics on Friday.

    Five thousand years of Chinese history flowed on a huge scroll that unrolled to chapters of China's 5,000-year civilization. "Whales" swam in the tank-like inner walls of the stadium. Human beings roamed on an elevating "globe", and dancers dressed in bright costumes formed a brightly-lit "Bird's Nest".

    "We have combined creativity with the most complicated technologies in Olympic history to maximize the visual and sensory impact on the audience," said Yu Jianping, technical team leader for the opening.

    Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) were installed across the 20,000-square-meter National Stadium, better known as the Bird's Nest, to create an ideal multimedia environment, with storage cells backing up electricity supplies.

    An LED screen 147 meters long and 22 meters wide was laid at the center of the ground, and about 44,000 colorful LED beads were embedded with a distance of 600 millimeters between each two.

    Tiny LED beads were also embedded on the costumes of performers who fan out to create a falling starry sky and a brightly-lit Bird's Nest.

    Four years ago Athens opened the Games with a dreamlike Aegean Sea. Today, Beijing opened a scroll to present China's history.

    The scroll and a "globe" made of aluminum alloy rose from elevating platforms, and performers walked, headstood and did all stunts on nine tracks of the "globe".

    Throughout the performances, high technology went hand in glove with traditional Chinese culture: performance of the movable type printing, one of the four great inventions of ancient China, took an image of both ancient Chinese character case and modern computer keyboard; fairies fell from the sky, costumes glowing with light, to represent "Apsaras", an image in the mural paintings of Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang in northwest China's Gansu Province.

    For the first time ever in Olympic openings, Beijing used a technical monitoring system for program control of more than 18,000 performers through their identification codes.

    "The Beijing Olympics opening features dozens of new technologies developed in many areas," said Yu Jianping.

    Cellular materials designed for the space sector, for example, were used to make paper in the painting scroll, he said. "Most of the core technologies used in the opening ceremony were independently developed by domestic companies."

    "The engineering design at the opening ceremony borrowed many of the latest space technologies. They ensured the stable operation of thousands of devices," said Zhou Fengguang, head of the Engineering Design and Research Institute of the People's Liberation Army General Armament Department.

    The control center of the opening ceremony was equipped with the "Shenzhou 4000" control system that was used during space missions.



    Fireworks were a highlight of the Beijing Olympics opening, with a "waterfall of stars" flowing down the interior walls of the Bird's Nest, the Olympics' 29 colossal burning footsteps toward Beijing and the five Olympic rings in the sky.

    Behind the dazzling show were sophisticated new technologies -- compressive air launches, chamber pressure launches and computerized ignition technologies.

    The use of digital ignition control system minimized the time difference of the firework display to a few milliseconds at more than 30 locations across Beijing, said Deng Shaohui, an official in charge of the firework shows during the opening ceremony.

    Despite a rare eruption of more than 40,000 shots, Beijing has used smokeless powder to reduce pollution to a record low, he said.

    Fireworks indicating the 29 footsteps along Beijing's axis to the Bird's Nest is a unique idea of Cai Guoqiang, director of visual and special effects of opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics and Paralympics.

    His ideas, plus high technologies, brought to life many Olympic icons including the smiling faces and the five rings.

    "We spent two years working to ensure every cannonball is shot to the right place," said Cai. "Had one of them faltered, the final image would not be the same."

Editor: Xinhuanet
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