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
- 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