With over 70 million people - almost all of them Chinese - expected to visit World Expo 2010 Shanghai, it was imperative that the opening ceremony for this extraordinary event went without a hitch.

Billed as the most spectacular outdoor multimedia display in history, the opening ceremony for World Expo 2010 Shanghai took place at the end of April and pushed the boundaries of technology t its limits. The extravaganza made non-stop use of fireworks, sound and light, with numerous elements such as mobile fountains, laser projections, and the world’s largest LED screen.

Australian production company David Atkins Enterprises (DAE) worked alongside Expo organisers to handle all aspects of the ceremony including the live and broadcast audio, which was sent to television stations around the world. And among the equipment chosen for this task were two identical Fairlight playback systems each consisting of two Xynergi controllers, two workstation PCs, two SX20 I/Os and a Fader sidecar.

DAE’s music editor and playback engineer Steve Logan says: “In any live event, but especially one of this magnitude and importance, reliability is paramount. This is why we always choose Fairlight for our audio requirements – because we know that, with Fairlight, we simply wouldn’t have any problems.”

Logan adds that Fairlight’s ability to edit directly on the playback system really came into its own during rehearsals and production as it enabled very fast turnaround.

“We also like Fairlight’s MADI capabilities as linking multiple systems and routing signals is much easier using single coax cables as opposed to what would otherwise be large quantities of multi-core cable,” he explains. “Fairlights also have powerful and flexible

synchronisation features that can be accessed in real-time during playback, as well as very fast response transport controls, which are essential for synchronising with live action. Another benefit is the internal Bussing, Patching and Mixing as this allows for a highly customised configuration.”

Broken into three Acts – Welcome To China, Harmonious Gathering and Celebration - the

Outdoor Ceremony of Expo 2010 Shanghai took place on a ‘stage’ that stretched 3.2 km along the Huangpu River, crowned on either side by the Lupu and Nanpu Bridges. The music featured a drum prelude by A R Rahman, who won a 2009 Academy Award for Best Music for Slumdog Millionaire; Overture from The Spring Festival Suite by Huan Zhi Li and performed by the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra and Peng Cao, and The Dragon, by Academy Award winning composer Vangelis. Alongside a selection of classical pieces, there were also musical contributions from Zhao Guang, Peewee Ferris, Chen Gang, He Zhanhao, Zhen Lu, Wang Xilin and John Adams.

Logan adds that the complex nature of the audio production meant that a temporary studio needed to be constructed at the Expo site.

“The whole show was synchronised from the Fairlights, with timecode sent to Lighting, Video, Lasers and Fountain control. We also sent FSK (Frequency Shift Keying) tracks from the Fairlights to set off all the Fireworks.”

DAE has extensive experience of handling complex events of this nture, having previously being involved in the opening and closing ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Sydney 2000 Summer Games and the 15th Asian Games Doha 2006, in Qatar.

“It certainly helps when you can tap into previous experience,” Logan says. ”And it also helps when you have faith in the equipment you have chosen because you’ve used it often enough in the past to know it won’t let you down.”


About Fairlight:

Headquartered in Sydney, Australia Fairlight designs and manufactures media production systems powered by the company’s groundbreaking CC-1 FPGA digital processing engine. The Fairlight product range includes Constellation, Xynergi and the new Pyxis MT, all of which feature in the world’s leading broadcasters, commercial post facilities, music studios and film production studios. Fairlight has a rich tradition of innovation and development and is at the forefront of green computing technology.