Thousands of people flocked to Sydney Aussie Stadium on November 2 for the opening ceremony of the sixth Gay Games, a week of competition in events ranging from athletics to ballroom dancing. Singers k.d. lang and Jimmy Sommerville were among the acts performing at the opening ceremony, titled “Fabulous,” for a crowd of about 38,000. Conceived by director Ignatius Jones, produced by Katrina Marton, and divided into segments titled “Welcome,” “Struggle,” “Remembrance,” “Acceptance,” “Celebration,” and “Finale,” the ceremony was poignant, historic, and jubilant.

Technical director for the event was Iain Reed with Trudy Dalgleish designing the lighting. In all there were three main areas that had to be lit: the field of play, the center mound, and the stage at one end of the stadium. Covering the vast expanse of the football field with adequate lighting was the first task to be tackled. The only position to place lighting was beneath the first tier of seating. With no actual hanging positions for the lighting fixtures, it was necessary to install two 328' (98m) lengths of Advanced Lighting Equipment tri-truss attached to cement beams underneath the tier.

“The first tier is only 30' [9m] high, and that's fairly low, but it actually works quite well because the size of the light beam is large by the time it hits the field, thus covering more people,” says Dalgleish. “Unfortunately, it does mean you can't define areas very well and pick up specials.”

Providing the main lighting for the field were 66 Martin Professional MAC 2000s with 30 Studio Due 2kW CityColors used to overlay color. Situated on the floor at either side of the playing field were 40 Vari*Lite® VL2402 fixtures to act as “ballet-boom-shinbusters,” as Dalgleish eloquently describes them. “I use them to pick out the people,” she adds. “I find that the combination of MAC 2000s and VL2402s makes for a really quite versatile rig.”

In the center of the field, a mound, lit by eight Martin MAC 600s, acted as a second stage and focal point for much of the evening's entertainment. The main stage area at one end of the stadium utilized a conventional, theatrical-style rig including 16 MAC 600s and 20 MAC 500s. Altman ZipStrips on the catwalk highlighted where the drag queens, an essential element of Sydney gay life, paraded. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian choir was situated on either side of the stage and was lit by eight 5kW fresnels.

At the top and bottom end of the field 12 Space Cannon searchlights were placed and, on the first night of technical rehearsals, Sydney Kingsford-Smith airport complained that they were a navigational hazard to incoming planes!

Due to budget restraints Dalgleish only had eight followspots to highlight the action on the field. (She called the followspots on the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, where she had 28 followspots for a similar-size field.) Settling for the eight followspots (although she had requested 16), Dalgleish was given four Strong Gladiators and four Robert Juliat units. Having never used the Robert Juliat gear before, she was uncertain as to whether they could do the job. “But once I saw them in action, I was sold!” she exclaims. “They are so punchy and really kick arse!”

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when installing the lighting system was the extremely long cable runs that were required. The lighting took four days to set up; the first day and a half was taken up with running the power. Three 750kVA generators were installed, linked on auto-start arranged to provide triple redundancy on lighting and double redundancy on audio.

The Electric Canvas was employed to generate the two large Pigi projections onto the field, each footprint measuring 88'×230' (26×69m). Eight projectors (six 7kW double-scrolling Pigis and two Hardware Xenon 7kWs with single Pigi scrollers) were used to project the eight keystone-corrected segments that made up the two images. “Flat angle accuracy was of prime importance so we used a theodolite and other professional surveying tools to set out the projection positions and guide the lineup once the projectors were installed,” explains Peter Milne, managing director of The Electric Canvas.

The company did distortion-correction solutions entirely in CAD using custom software designed for the Olympics in 2000. As the images were projected onto grass it was decided to do all imagery as hand-colored black-and-white film. Approximately 239' (72m) of film were printed, which took 350 hours to color by hand. Ignatius Jones supplied the images and The Electric Canvas supplied an accurate template for the segment designers to place images. Crew and equipment were supplied by Chameleon Touring Systems.