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FEBRUARY 12, 2010   

Olympic (digital) extravaganza

TV screen shot of Winter Olympic opening ceremonyThe opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics had its human touches, including a regular-looking guy reciting a poem about Canada, and an opera singer with a dynamite voice. And then there were the "snowboarders" suspended on wires...

But it was mostly a digital extravaganza, with multiple projectors using the entire stadium floor as a screen. This, combined with fabric scrims that took on various shapes, created a gigantic video art installation. The scene shown is near the end of the ceremony, the fabric shapes representing mountains.

Earlier, a gorgeous effect showed, as if from above, a group of whales swimming across the surface of the ocean. At certain points they spouted geysers of water, adding 3D reality to the 2d imagery.

[Video added 2/14]

The technical complexity of this spectacular makes my head hurt. But it went off smoothly right to the end when one of four torch pillars wouldn't rise from the floor. Unfortunate, but a minor glitch given everything else that went right.

Earlier, as teams from all the nations paraded into the arena, I unexpectedly felt a small surge of pride when the U.S. team entered. I'm not very interested in sports, am not a flag-waver by any stretch of the imagination, but still...these were a bunch of decent-looking folks representing me somehow. I'm OK with that.

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