Vincenzo Ametrano

Early August
In the office it was deadly hot even if the air conditioners were going like wild (I told the editor- let’s move to the seashore, but he wouldn’t listen…plus he said it’s out of style) and even answering the phone was a real effort.

On the other end of the line was Paolo Buroni: “In two days we’re leaving for Turkey because we have to put up an installation which looks great on paper. If you feel like it, you can still find some low cost tickets and in a couple days you could be back home. What do you say?”. It was a flash. I am sure I saw the Madonna of Medjugorje (I know, I know that Medjugorje is in Bosnia Herzegovina and not in Turkey, but it was so hot…) nodding with her head, and without even thinking I told him I was turning off the computer and getting organized.

As Paolo promised, a little over 48 hours later, we were at Izmir, a beautiful town located about 350 Km from the Greek border, facing the Aegean sea, right in front of the Aegean islands (obviously) which have greatly contributed to making Greece a famous tourist spot. But on this side of the border, history and people have taken another path.
The setting in which the event will take place, is the Atatürk stadium, completely renovated for the occasion.
The event we are here for is the Universiadi which Turkey has decided to inaugurate with an opening ceremony which, in terms of grandeur, might be compared to an Olympic ceremony: 1200 walk-ons. of which 800 dancers presenting 15 choreographies directed by 15 more choreographers. Real size sailing ships that take the scene, an enormous Trojan Horse containing more than 30 people, manually drawn to the centre of the field by about 100 walk-ons with enormous tow ropes, giving the great illusion of past times. The roofless Atatürk stadium, can hold up to 40,000 spectators, and for this occasion it was surrounded by great security measures for the fear of terrorist attacks, now more than ever before. In fact here, besides the international terrorism problems, the unresolved Kurdish issue contributes to further enlarging a sense of danger that the inhabitants deal with on a daily basis.
Although we all had special passes that displayed the reason for our presence and our role, the security measures were so strict that we were left outside of the stadium for hours, together with the entire lights and settings team. However, fortunately everything took place without incidents and the Turkish authorities concluded this important event with great efficiency, achieving great results in terms of image, especially on an international level, because the event was broadcasted in World vision. The concept of making a “grand” opening ceremony was also expressed in the technical structures, in particular in the lighting and set designing, which were really out of the ordinary. What really stood out were two enormous towers, 50 metres high, positioned on the outside, on the two sides of the stadium. Because the stadium has no roof, a solution had to be found for hanging the setting and lighting systems without crowding the field.
The two towers were built for this purpose, each one with 150 meter long ropes holding up two 80 meter battens, each hanging 30 meters over the centre of the field.

The set design system was based on three main types of projectors:
-140 Space Cannons with mobile heads positioned all along the circumference of the stadium for light effects.
- 20 P.R. architectural illuminators for the chromatic effects at the edge of the field and on the bleachers
- 12 STARK Revolution projectors with mobile heads installed on the two battens mentioned above for the projection of images onto the game field.
- 12 P.R. spot 1200 projectors, also installed on the two battens together with the stark projectors, for creating effects projected on the choreographies.
Because of the enormous quantity of energy necessary, an impressive 20 electric generators were installed around the external perimeter of the stadium.
The set-up, considered one of the greatest ever created in Turkey, was supplied and installed by Focus of Istanbul and handled directly by the owner Mr. Cenk, with Buroni’s supervision and layout.
Among other things, Focus is the distributor in Turkey for Stark and Space Cannon projectors. The Focus workers professionally managed the chromatic effects using three Grand MAs independent of the Space Cannons and the Starks.
The event narrated the history and mythology behind the birth of Turkey, representing and underlining the most historically significant moments with great spectacularity and pathos. The Space Cannons framed the entire stadium with magnificent light beams moving to the beat of the music, while the Starks projected 90 scenographies onto the game field, covered by an enormous raised platform which transformed it into a screen. Inevitably the Revolution projector was chosen for collimating and focussing the images from a distance. This operation would have been otherwise impossible, given the type of installation. Just think that it would have taken 30 minutes to lower one of the battens from the height of 30 meters!

The projections were really spectacular, and although I had already seen the rehearsals together with the other technicians, and I already knew the show, the emotions I felt during the ceremony were indescribable. With all of the walk-ons in their costumes and the stadium full of people from all over the world “oohing and aahing” at every change of scenery, it was impossible not to be carried away by the spectacular beauty of that enormous living painting.