On Friday July 14th, ECA2’s spectacular multimedia live event thrilled audiences worldwide as the opening ceremony kicked off the 17th FINA World Championships  in Budapest.

Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, and founded in 1908, FINA (Fédération internationale de natation) is the international federation recognized by the International Olympic CommitteeFédération_Internationale_de_Natation.logo (IOC) for running international competitions in aquatic sports.

To start the 17th World Championships, FINA’s prestigious binennial event, the Hungarian capital and its iconic river, the Danube, were utilised by French showmakers ECA2 and Hungary’s cultural hothouse Müpa Budapest, both as backdrops and essential parts of the show into an unforgettable and unique theatrical experience.

The creatives behind the show faced quite a challenge. With the historic city of Budapest as a canvas, itself a UNESCO World Heritage site, how could they create a an event that was equally amazing to both spectators watching at home and those in attendance? With the city not designed as an entertainment venue, how could such an event be plugged in? How would the technology integrate with what is often rated the most beautiful city in Europe, once which was in fact ranked as “the world’s second best city” by Condé Nast Traveler?

multimedia live event Fédération_Internationale_de_Natation opening ceremony

A multimedia live event like no other

Inspired by rich Hungarian history, the team developed a theme. This was The Memory of Water.  Müpa Budapest creatives used the mighty Danube as a narrative drive for the two hour show.

Paris-based ECA2 is a creator of internationally renowned multimedia shows. These include Fountain of Dreams in Wuyishan, China and Lake of Illusions for OCT Shanghai Happy Valley.

They applied their unique technical expertise to co-opt the Danube river.  Taking full advantage of its powerful waters, the river became a participant in the show. Choreographed jets, sprays, and video mapping onto mid-air water screens dazzled spectators.

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In addition, ten-meter-long flames and hyperactive laser effects added to the mix, along with night-beating lightbeams, an inspiring soundscape, fireworks and even drones. In addition, over 500 live performers together with 220 volunteers and sportsmen took part. They interacted with sophisticated multimedia technologies, creating a blizzard of mesmerising effects.

All the Danube’s a stage

The foundation for the multimedia live event was the stage which floated on the Danube. With an area twice the size of an Olympic stadium – equivalent to 3 football fields – this presented its own challenges. High river traffic, the current and the tide were therefore issues taken into account by ECA2.

However, what made the show truly different and unqiue was the way the city itself became part of the show. The Danube, the Buda Castle, the Chain Bridge; all these iconic attractions played a part in a single vast theatrical experience. Projected images also told thrilling tales from Hungarian folklore using the city’s rich architectural heritage as a canvas.  In doing so, this unique Opening Ceremony therefore broke the mould with its enormous and ambitious spectacle.

All images credit : Julien Panie.