Ice effect display of Beijing 2022 opening ceremony designed to convey new image of China different from 2008: design team
Published: Feb 09, 2022 10:29 PM
Courtesy of Nuctopus Studio

Opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Photo: Courtesy of Nuctopus Studio

As the world witnessed the breathtaking display of the ice sculpture of the Olympics rings, the colossal ice cube and the snowflake-shaped cauldron holding the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, the design team told the Global Times on Wednesday that the display aimed to show the new image of China which is different from that in 2008. 

To convey such a concept, China's renowned director Zhang Yimou and Nuctopus Studio, a 15-member CG animation production group based in Shanghai, raced against time while experiencing innumerable stumbles and falls before they accomplished the task successfully, said Song Yuefeng, founder and chief director of the studio. 

During the opening ceremony, the splendid display of laser beams carved and engraved the surface of the cube with the figures of athletes and names of the 23 cities that have previously hosted the Winter Games before ending with Beijing, thrilling audiences across the world. 

The figures and names were finally displayed with 2D effect, which the director believed provided more Chinese characteristics, said Song.

The 3D perspective is what Western art emphasizes and is good at, while the use of ink painting - combined with lines outlined with the laser like a pen - is more consistent with Chinese aesthetics, he said. 

Comparing the opening ceremony with that of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Game, Song said he was shocked when he saw the framework of the 2022 opening ceremony.

"The message it wants to convey was different from that of 2008. In 2008, the main aim was to 'let the world see China,' while this time, it is to show a new perspective and a new image of China - China has become highly self-confident," Song told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Zhang Yimou and Nuctopus Studio members Photo:Courtesy of Nuctopus Studio

Zhang Yimou and Nuctopus Studio members Photo:Courtesy of Nuctopus Studio

According to Song, the director pursued completely different expressions at different stages, which were fully felt by the audience and recognized by the entire society and the global audience. The director's thinking summarized, echoed with, responded to and led the whole era. An artist at this level has a very deep interaction with the whole nation, he said. 

Around 10 domestic visual effects teams were invited to compete for the task and Song's team finally won the opportunity. 

Song said Zhang was uneasy at first to use a pure Chinese young team, but his confidence was boosted after several rounds of evaluations. 

From last April when the group was invited until last July, when their participation in the project was finally decided, the group experienced numerous rejections and improvements. 

According to Song, Zhang had in the beginning proposed to create a visual effect of a colossal pure ice cube, while Song's team and other teams had made numerous proposals about the texture of the ice cube and how to present it. 

Song said that he learned a lot from working with Zhang, who balanced the macro while being meticulous about the micro on directing such a large-scale art creation.

"He was able to simplify what is complicated and make trade-offs among various conditions, while exploring all the possibilities and making the best choice under existing conditions," Song said.