Anyone watching the Tokyo Olympics’ closing ceremony at home on Sunday will have been treated to a fleeting but spectacular light show that took place toward the end of the evening’s entertainment.
But what will have looked to many like an astonishing sequence powered by LED-laden drones was in fact the result of made-for-TV special effects that no one in the stadium will have seen. That may not have mattered anyway as pandemic measures meant Tokyo’s 68,000-capacity Olympic stadium had zero spectators at the time, containing instead only a limited number of competitors and a handful of officials and dignitaries.
The light show — for those at home watching on TV — showed multiple waves of white lights flowing from the ground to the sky to form a bright rendition of the Olympic rings. According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the multitude of lights were designed to represent the 11,000-plus athletes who took part in the Games.
“Together, these lights rise to form a luminous wave representing the Olympic spirit that lives within us all,” the IOC said, adding, “As these lights take flight across the stadium, we remember the many people whose contribution made the Olympics possible, both near and far, as well as those who could not be here today.”
The light show was designed by Moment Factory, a Montreal-based entertainment agency that through its work aims to “inspire a sense of collective wonder and connection.” We think it achieved just that with its remarkable digital light show that helped to close the Games.
While drone-powered light displays are increasingly giving fireworks a run for their money when it comes to night-sky entertainment, the Tokyo 2020 organizers decided to use the flying machines only during last month’s opening ceremony.
During the event, 1,824 drones operated by Intel buzzed high over the Olympic stadium to form a giant 3D representation of Earth in a sequence that became for many people the most memorable part of the ceremony.
— #Tokyo2020 (@Tokyo2020) July 23, 2021
Intel has been building its drone display business for a number of years now, using specially designed software to program its 340-gram quadcopters to quickly assemble into various colorful shapes to create impressive animations and other entertaining effects.