“Bonkers” Olympic Opening Ceremony wows the world

Almost 27 million people tuned into the BBC on Friday night to watch a £27 million Olympic opening ceremony that showcased the great and good of British film, music, history and technology.

The ceremony, which has been described by many as “bonkers”, featured everything from James Bond and Mr Bean to Mary Poppins and Voldemort. And even The Queen herself.

The London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony featured a volunteer cast of more than 7,500 volunteer performers who gave up their weekends and evenings to take part in a total of 248 rehearsals at two east London rehearsal sites.

Stand Out will bring you more from the Olympic opening ceremony in the September issue but for now here are some statistics from Friday night:

  • 15,000 square metres of staging – equivalent to 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools
  • 500 speakers and 50 tonnes of sound equipment used in the million-watt PA system – double the amount of speakers on the main stage at the Glastonbury Festival
  • 40,000 recycled plastic water bottles and 10,000 recycled plastic bags are incorporated into the costumes
  • 25 tonnes – the weight the flying system in the Stadium can lift – that’s equal to five elephants
  • 7,500 volunteer cast
  • The two parachutists featured during Happy and Glorious are Gary Connery (The Queen) and Mark Sutton (James Bond). Connery is a professional stuntman and base jumper who recently leapt from a helicopter at 2,400-feet wearing a wing suit, and landed in a pile of boxes. Sutton started skydiving in 1992 while serving as an Officer in the Royal Gurkha Rifles.
  • 4 months – the time it took to “break down” the costumes, until they looked worn and realistic
  • 965 drummers, the majority of whom were volunteers
  • The ceremony utilised new technology – the stadium featured 70,799 audience pixel paddles, which were attached to each seat. Each of these panels has nine LED pixels – there are nearly 640,000 in total – which are controlled by a central computer, connected via 317km. It took a team of 40 almost two months to install the system. And three people spent 40 hours lining up the images to the irregular shape of the seating bowl
  • Tait Technologies provided 320 hospital beds for the National Health Service Swing Out Sisters mass choreography section of the opening ceremony. Working with Danny Boyle and his designer Mark Tildsley, Tait Technologies designed the beds so that they could be sent to medical facilities in less fortunate countries after the event. A team of 15 volunteers are now removing the LED pillows and duvets, batteries and wiring required for the production to turn the beds into functioning hospital beds. These beds will then be delivered to Hospital Habis Burguiba De Medenine and Hospital de Taouine in Tunisia. A total of eight 40-foot containers will be required to ship the 320 beds and mattresses, and Rock It Cargo has covered all freight costs for the shipment.