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Art Director reveals the secret of the 897-piece Chinese Characters
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The Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics was amazing. However, Art Director Han Lixun said that less than 20 percent of the original ideas made it through to the final performance. The design for the Opening Ceremony started two and half years ago. The team worked on a large number of ideas, among which the only one that kept its original form throughout the process was the Chinese Character template.

AThe movable Chinese printing characters amazed the audience at the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games.

The movable Chinese printing characters amazed the audience at the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games.

To present the 897-piece printing template was a real challenge. Principal Director of the Opening Ceremony, Zhang Yimou, set a requirement that each block should be lifted by 4 meters in a second, and should be light enough for the performer to handle with only one hand. The first trial was a failure. Han Lixun tried again and changed the lifting mechanism from hydraulic pressure to scissors elevation – a modification that turned out to be a great success.

The most-regretted loss from the original ideas was a paper-cut style opera stage, according to Han. The original design for the opera performance, more complicated than what was seen in the Opening Ceremony, would have included shadow play during the opera.

To present the world with an Opening Ceremony that would meet with universal approval was an impossible task, especially with a combination of so many elements. Han and other co-workers were under severe pressure, but they were gradually able to relax during the first half of the ceremony as they saw the positive response from friends, family and audience.

Han has announced that he is writing a book on the whole preparation process of the Opening Ceremony. He already has all the material he requires, and now needs only to work on the writing. The book will be published within 2 months. Han has a manuscript which contains all the designs he has drawn for preparing the Opening Ceremony.

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