Watching the closing ceremony for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi on Friday, I was reminded of an idea that I sent along to the organising committee for the London Olympic Games…
I’m sure you have your opening and closing ceremonies completely planned at this stage but I’ve had an idea for a kind of prop that would fit completely with the London theme and offer a whole new way of projecting imagery into the stadium.
The image of men in bowler hats carrying umbrellas is a very recognisable one and dancing with umbrellas was something touched on in the London segment of the Beijing Olympics. However, what if the umbrellas were white and viewed more as mobile projector screens? There are now small digital projectors that could be attached to the handle of white fabric umbrellas, so that they shine an image onto the fabric section of the umbrella. With thin material the image would shine through to the other side, much like any other back projected screen. All the power and data systems for the projector could be stored in a small pack on the operator’s back, still leaving them very free to move around the stadium floor, wheeling and dancing around with their umbrella/mobile cinema screen shining brightly to the crowd.
By using a digital projector anything could be shone on the umbrella/screen, from block colour (of any colour) to short movies that tie in with specific sports.
Now imagine a stadium full of people carrying such things, each could be a small element in a much larger mosaic. In this form a choreographed troupe would be able to move around the stadium, moving from position to position as the image on the umbrella changes. However, if you were to build more sophisticated devices then you could include some kind of tracking system (either inertial or GPS) which would make the projector show the correct element for the location that the operator has in the stadium, making each umbrella a window on a larger picture. This approach would have the great benefit that no one could ever be out of position and spoil the whole effect.
I hope what I have written makes some sense without any illustrations.
They wrote back to me with the usual “we thank you for your interest” type email, which is fair enough really, I simply needed to get the idea off my chest, although I still think it would look mighty splendid.
Searching the internets, the only thing I have come across that’s similar is an umbrella with a projector and PC attached. The PC’s display is projected to the underside of the umbrella, rather than being intended to show through. The idea being you can use the whole thing as a piece of portable computing when it’s chucking it down. I suspect the iPhone has stolen its thunder – see what I did there!