Tell us about the early design brief
We were approached by director Danny Boyle to art direct all video content delivered to the stadium in the Opening Ceremony. Our team provided animation, filmmaking and video projection design services and we worked closely with Danny to develop an aesthetic and a narrative that showcased British contributions to visual culture throughout recent history.
What challenges did you face along the way?
There was a vast amount of material to create, and not a great deal of time to do it in, so making sure that our in-house team of 25 artists were all working closely and effectively was really important. Schedules and budgets were tight, and rehearsal time was minimal. This meant that we had to devise a system whereby content could be tested and shared with the creative team long before we got into the stadium.
We achieved this by having a 1:200 scale model of the stadium built, onto which we projected content in miniature. This allowed us to pre-visualise the projected elements of the show, and to share ideas with the rest of the creative team.
We knew that our design work had to be distinctive, playful and integrated with the other departments – whether choreography, lighting or music. We also knew that we needed to build and programme the show in such a way that last-minute changes to timings and scenes could be made on site. We didn’t finish making changes until a couple of hours before we went live to the world!
What about specific design challenges?
The challenges were probably too numerous to enumerate! But one of the key things for us was to be able to respond quickly and effectively to changes in concept, to new ideas and to technical limitations. This meant that whilst maintaining world-class quality, we also needed to be very agile and responsive.
Animation can be a very time-consuming art form, so when it came to devising the technical systems that we intended to use, and to both creating content and programming the media servers we used to deliver the show, we had to make sure that we had the capacity to adapt and reconfigure our work quickly. It also meant that maintaining clear and efficient communication with both the rest of the creative team and the enormous machine that was LOCOG was of utmost importance.
How did it feel to be involved in such an important British project?
It was a source of enormous pride to be working on the biggest show in the world, with a team of incredibly talented artists.