A spectacular sporting event

The opening of the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 with MA Lighting and Prolights

Flo Erdmann designed the lighting for the opening ceremony of the biggest multisport event in Germany since the 1972 Olympics and used a full grandMA3 system.

From 17 to 25 June, the world’s largest inclusive sporting event, the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, took place in Germany for the first time. The event is all about visibility, social participation, empowerment and integration, as 7,000 athletes with intellectual and multiple disabilities step into the limelight to give their best performances in 26 different sports.

In the run-up to the Special Olympics, the Local Organization Committee (LOC) started a 360° event and awareness campaign, which drew the public’s attention to the games and the athletes in the weeks leading up to the event. The spectacular opening ceremony made an important contribution to the public perception of the sporting event. Numerous TV channels and streaming services will broadcast the inclusive event in Germany and internationally.

Under the artistic direction of Sven Soeren Beyer, the collective phase7 performing.arts was responsible for the creative concept of the opening ceremony, as well as its planning and implementation in collaboration with mediapool Veranstaltungsgesellschaft on behalf of the LOC. Technical services were provided by the POOLgroup.

On behalf of phase7, Flo Erdmann (von | BERG) developed the lighting design for the impressive backdrop of the Berlin Olympic Stadium. The brief for the show was clear: it should attract attention and function as a 360° concept – both for the audience in the stadium and for the television cameras. Raphael Grebenstein (Light Art Studios) supported Erdmann as Lighting Director and Show Lighting Operator. He also programmed the show on a grandMA3 console with grandMA3 software.


Big moment: the arrival of the Olympic flame

One of the emotional highlights of every Olympic opening ceremony is the moment when the Olympic flame is lit. For the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, police officers from all the participating countries first carried the Olympic torch to Berlin in squadrons. During the arrival of the torch at the stadium, police officers of different nationalities formed a guard of honor for the torch carrier, who carried the flame down the stairs and into the stadium from the Marathontor. There, it was handed over to athletes, who carried the torch around the stadium for one last lap, before the final carrier lit the Olympic cauldron in the middle of the stadium: a moment that called for a stunning visual effect.

Lighting designer Flo Erdmann fulfilled the brief with 32 Prolights Astra Wash19PixIP, which were placed directly on the stairs. Here, the weatherproof (IP65) moving wash lights with 19 individually controllable 40W RGBW LEDs served as single-beam, effect floodlights, as well as stair lighting and camera cover.


Lighting control with four grandMA3 consoles and grandMA3 software

For the integrated control of the complex light show with multiple hundred floodlights and the stadium lighting, the team opted for a grandMA3 system with grandMA3 software. Programmer and Lighting Director Raphael Grebenstein explains: “The house system at the Olympic Stadium already runs on grandMA3 software. This provided us the opportunity to seamlessly integrate the stadium lighting – the individually controllable membranes on the stadium roof, the local lighting and the LED ring around the circumference, which can also be used for pixel mapping – in the show, while using the same software. This allowed us to make the show much more immersive. With the grandMA3, we were easily able to integrate the house lighting elements in the sessions.

The lighting controls for the opening ceremony consisted of three grandMA3 full-size, one grandMA3 light and various grandMA3 processing units L and XL for parameter calculation.

For Raphael Grebenstein, it was the first time using the grandMA3 system in a production of this size. “I’m already impressed with the grandMA3 software, but after ten years’ experience with the previous version, the transition process will take a little time.”

Time that he will continue to take, as he has already decided to switch from grandMA2 to grandMA3 at his Hamburg-based company, Light Art Studios GmbH. “We plan to switch our equipment over to the new system in the coming months. In that sense, the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games Berlin is a fantastic opportunity to gather further experience with the latest-generation console and software in a large production.”

When asked which functions of the grandMA3 software are most important and useful, a few things come to mind for Raphael: “I quickly came to value the selection grid in this production. At the Olympic Stadium, we faced a very large lighting system in which the floodlights are distributed across the entire stadium. The advantage of the selection grid is that the programming can be easily adapted on site if the lamps installed in the venue don’t match up precisely. All you have to do is modify the selection grid to the actual conditions, and all the settings are back as they should be. It’s an incredibly valuable function that saves a lot of time.”

With large show files like this one, another helpful and time-saving feature is the new designed showfile upload, which only uploads the modified values to the file. Raphael has also been impressed by the performance of the system within the network: “The entire system runs extremely reliably, thanks to its super powerful network connection. I definitely feel that I can rely on the consoles and the software. After these initial experiences, I am highly motivated to switch to grandMA3.”

“It was great to have the MA support team at our side,” reported Flo and Raphael. “The support from Lightpower was incredibly, both during the programming stage and on site.”


Find out more about:

grandMA3 full-size

grandMA3 light

grandMA3 processing unit L

grandMA3 processing unit XL



Konzept, Stage Design, Regie: Sven Soeren Beyer

Videodesign: Studio Eigengrau | Frieder Weiss

Lichtdesign: Flo Erdmann

Musikalische Leitung: Das Dur

Produktion: mediapool Veranstaltungsgesellschaft & phase7 performing.arts

Kunde: LOC

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