By Brooke Sever
After a seemingly endless string of mishaps that threatened to derail the nineteenth Commonwealth Games, all eyes turned to the opening ceremony in Dehli’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the hope that it’s spectacle would put the event back into a positive light. S&S caught up with lighting legend Ola Melzig, who acted as technical director for ceremonies, to find out about the high’s and low’s behind the end result.
S&S: Given all the negative media coverage leading up to the event due to the delays in venue and security, the opening ceremony was seen by many as a chance for Delhi to prove that they were the right choice to hold the event – did you feel this pressure and do you think they succeeded in pulling it off?
Ola Melzig: Of course we felt an enormous pressure since the media refused to back off on their attacks of the OC. And yes, we had several speed bumps to overcome to reach the goal, but that is pretty normal on a big show like this. I think the live broadcast [of the Opening Ceremony] was proof beyond any doubt that they pulled it off.
Were you excited or hesitant about the gig? It has to be challenging working in India when you’re used to working across Europe.
It’s been an adventure for sure. But I’m used to the mentality; you come across the same in southern and eastern parts of Europe. And big shows like these always become very political, which adds an additional challenge to them. But that challenge is the same regardless of where you go in the world. And when you know how to deal with it, it’s not a major problem.
When did you start preparations for the ceremony?
The first crew started working on site at the venue on August 15, but planning has been going on for years. The final screw went into the stage on October 3, the day of the ceremony!
How long did the programming take? We understand it was done without air-conditioning, which in Delhi would have proved to be a pretty warm task! How did the guys cope, did the heat set them back?
There was no permanent installed AC in the wing of the venue where the Technical Production office was. The WYSIWYG studio didn’t have any AC for the first week, but eventually they got two portable units. Before that, it was pretty hard on the boys, but they bit the bullet and it wasn’t much of a setback for them. They did two weeks of WYSIWYG programming.
The lighting was run in two sessions – why was this?
The reason to use two session was simply, that we had too much NSPs and two PortNodes Pro to be able to run them all in one session.
We heard about some issues with the local power generator company – can you fill us in on what happened?
The generators provided were for permanent industrial installations, so were pretty far from what we needed. The crew had absolutely no understanding about what kind of equipment that was attached at the other end of the line. We had one complete shut down without any warning that took out some 200 moving lights and a 330V peak two days later that killed another 100+ movers, so the LX hospital was pretty busy fixing broken lights all the way up to the show!
Any other challenges or problems you had to overcome?
Our biggest problem was getting stuff into the venue on time. Security was handled by Delhi police and they were not always as flexible as you would like them to be. Accreditation of staff was another big headache, since it didn’t work the way it should.
What was your favourite aspect of the show?
I think my favourite part of the show was the ‘Swagatam’ segment. It was a true show-stealer, and it was performed by kids and that made it extra funny.
Was the kit supplied locally or internationally?
It was an international supply. PRG-Lights and Rigging, Norwest- PA and Monitor, Intercom design- Best Audio, Intercom- Riedel, Pyro- Howard& Sons, Scenic rigging- Stage One, Video- Creative Technology and finally Aerostat- K-Events twogether with Robbie Williams Production.Stage and props were supplied locally by Blue Lotus.