The opening ceremony

Jul 31, 2012 | | |

Being in the US, we initially watched the London Olympics opening ceremony on NBC and it quickly became apparent that they had no clue how to do a live broadcast like this. The sound was awful, the commentators had no idea what was going on and spoke over all the parts where they should have stayed quiet. Countries were missing from the parade, they ditched chunks of the Industrial Revolution and Frankie & June, and they completely cut Emile Sande's 7/7 tribute song. So all in all, a massive #NBCFail there. Fortunately, the interwebs is a wonderful place, and thanks to BitTorrent, we acquired a 9Gb MKV file of the BBC transmission. So last night we sat down to watch the ceremony for a second time, this time on our big screen (and I mean big, as in a projectors and a 10ft diagonal screen) with our theater sound system.
Where to start? I suppose given that I bought the official soundtrack album as soon as we'd finished, and that I'm listening to it as I type, I'll start at the end. The entire parade of the athletes was a spectacle the likes of which I've not seen in an opening ceremony before. I think it was probably because Danny Boyle raided my MP3 playlist so the entire soundtrack to that parade was keyed perfectly to my brain. We turned the amp up to 11 for that. Having that little segment of the BeeGees played when Fiji came out was pretty funny too - nicely done Mr. Boyle. But then the rest of the ceremony was good too. Not the same sort of amazing that China pulled off four years ago, but amazing nonetheless. I did have two WTF moments though - first - what was the deal with all the rugby footage during 'Jerusalem' at the beginning, and second - celebrating the NHS? Really? Ok I'm totally OK with Great Ormond Street and the kids stuff but celebrating the NHS was a total "huh?" moment for me (given how appallingly my family has suffered at the hands of their so-called Doctors over the years). But anyway back to the ceremony. I loved it. The industrial revolution was brilliant but by far and away my favourite section was Frankie & June and Tim Berners-Lee. Once again, my playlist had been raided for that section. The ending where they had the whole stadium with flames on the arena lighting that flashed white, dropped to black and had the single white strobe outline the rim of the arena to the end of Emile Sande's "Heaven" totally did it for me.

Video is not visible, most likely your browser does not support HTML5 video

Danny Boyle shot up several points in my book when he managed to play Frankie Goes To Hollywood during that number as well - I never thought I'd see 'Relax' get such a huge airing again, and I loved the one-finger salute to the BBC - they played the exact lines that got the song banned by the BBC all those years ago. Nice one Danny.
Now if you want the full experience, I recommend you track down the video on youtube that was posted yesterday by one of the performers in the Industrial Revolution. He had a GoPro sewn into his costume. You can synchronise the TV coverage with his footage and watch them together to see his point of view compared to the entire spectacle, and that's well worth the time to do.
And so back to the final part - the thousands of drummers. Who cares if they were plastic tubs and not actual drums? Keeping the athletes marching in-time to 120bpm with all those synchronised volunteer drummers was another scene that qualifies for the amazeballs tag.
I think the takeaway from this is that the NBC coverage sucks donkey balls, the BBC had much better audio, picture and much less commentary, and Danny Boyle is the man of the moment for using my playlist in the opening ceremony. Twice. Almost makes me wish I'd been there to see it for real....

1 comments:

  1. Paul says:

    Must admit I'm not quite as excited as you are Chris but I still thought it was a great event. A huge pity that NBC screwed it up so badly. Those bloody adverts every 3-4 minutes... And I had a nephew as one of the performers so we were looking out for him the whole time as well.
    What I was particularly impressed with was the way the chimneys and giant wheels seemingly appeared out of nowhere.

    And, of course, the whole Queen parachuting into the stadium part was very well done.