A welcome party to floor crowd

It involves world's largest projection system used in sport and flying props

ST 20150516 SPTSEA20A 1324057m

LIGHTS, cameras and plenty of action will take centre stage at the SEA Games opening ceremony on June 5, with organisers vowing to deliver a visual spectacle unlike any Singapore has ever seen.

For starters, the sell-out crowd of more than 40,000 will witness the world's largest projection system used in any sporting event to date, with 160 high-definition projectors transforming the floor of the National Stadium into a massive screen.

In comparison, the unforgettable 2008 Beijing Olympics' opening ceremony featured 146 such projectors while Singapore's National Day Parade (NDP) typically showcases around 60.

The system is run by home-grown company Hexogon Solution, also the lighting provider for the past three NDPs and the Formula One night race here.

"We are under pressure to deliver something Singapore can be proud of," said Kenny Wong, technical director of the Games' opening and closing ceremonies (OCC).

"During our discussions, there were ideas that made us think, 'Are you sure you want to do that?' - but we tried our best to make it happen."

Backed by a host of flying performers and props, including a 20m-long dragon that will "fly" just below the venue's domed roof, the three-hour spectacle draws inspiration from past sporting fiestas such as the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.

But it will maintain a distinctly South-east Asian flavour as Singapore welcomes more than 7,000 athletes and officials for the region's biggest multi-sport event in the Republic's Golden Jubilee year.

"It's going to be different from NDP as it's not just a celebration for our country. This will be a welcome party for our neighbours, celebrating the best of sport," said OCC creative director Beatrice Chia-Richmond.

It will be a 360-degree multimedia experience for the spectators, who will each receive a commemorative LED medallion to be hung around their necks.

These will be activated during the spectacle to create a giant "wall" of display graphics and moving images.

As excitement builds and officials grow increasingly secretive over the actual contents of the show, Wong sought to play down comparisons to Beijing's spectacular Olympic kick-off at the Bird's Nest Stadium seven years ago.

He said: "Our budget is far, far less than Beijing's - theirs was a message to the world that China is ready.

"There will be many 'wow' moments but, at the end of the day, we also want spectators to go home feeling touched in a way."

nsanjay@sph.com.sg