Asian Cup Opening Ceremonies

Asian Cup Opening Ceremonies

Renowned lighting designer Roland Greil turned to two power luminaires in Elation’s market-leading Proteus series to bring the grandeur of the AFC Asian Cup Opening Ceremony to life. Held January 12 at Lusail Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Greil chose the Proteus Brutus and Proteus Excalibur to deliver captivating lighting displays and theatrical impact for this major event production.

The AFC Asian Cup, organized by the Asian Football Confederation, brought together 24 national teams in Qatar to crown the men's football champion of Asia. The Opening Ceremony was a celebration of unity and inclusivity with performances by renowned Qatari and regional artists who revealed the secrets of “The Lost Chapter of Kelileh & Demneh” in a breathtaking visual narrative.

(l to r): Markus Neubauer | LX Programmer II & Keylighting; Troy Eckerman | Associate LD; Roland Greil | Lighting Designer; Michael Kuehbandner | Studio Associate & LX Programmer I; Tom Levin | Design Assistant & Spotcaller

Theatrical and flexible

Greil was hired by executive producers Katara Studios to deliver the full lighting design, a scope that also included previz, programming and ultimately delivery of the lighting component of the show together with the creative and technical teams. He shared insights into the creative framework, stating, “From the beginning, the brief was to create a highly theatrical experience that was also flexible enough to deliver big ceremony looks and tick all the boxes in terms of a 360-degree live-for-broadcast show.”

Design studio Sila Sveta created a beautiful organic production design that embedded the local culture and history into an amazing 21-minute visual story. Collaborating with Sila Sveta, Greil supported the story by creating a picture frame for wherever the action was taking place, the stage or elsewhere. “We set the mood and framed the scenery and background with lighting to support the story but also collaborated together with all the other visual elements which were beautiful by themselves. At the end of the show, the theatrical storytelling then transitioned into bigger ceremonial moments.”

Long throws

According to Greil, with large outdoor shows of this caliber there is one major feature of a light that is essential and that is brightness and firepower. “When you do a full-on stadium ceremony you are limited in your lighting positions because you can’t rig lights in open space,” he said, “therefore you are dealing with quite long throw distances. With throws of 40 to over 100 meters, brightness can’t be substituted with anything other than more firepower. At the moment, that brings you to one specific beautiful fixture, which is the Proteus Brutus.”

The Proteus Brutus, a 75000-lumen-strong LED wash beam FX fixture housing a 1200W peak field LED engine, is a fixture Greil calls “decidedly unique.” He comments. “As far as I know, it is the brightest wash/beam light on the market, which is a huge help in doing a show like this. At a throw distance of 100 meters there are very few lights that give you enough light to allow you to use color. The Proteus Brutus was the workhorse washlight to light the stage and pitch for this event and we used them in different lighting positions.” Those positions comprised 18 units on each of four catwalks along with 32 units on a circular truss about 60-70 meters above ground.

Extend the picture frame

Greil sought to extend the beautiful stage design and architecture with lighting and therefore extend the picture frame of the show. In order to translate that into bigger looks, he was in search of a beam light that could work on such a large scale. For the designer, a few things were important – brightness and a narrow beam, but also key was a light with a large front lens.

He comments, “And that brought us to a trusted partner that I have used before, the Proteus Excalibur. It has a big diameter front lens, creates a lovely beam and did the job very well in the stadium at that scale.” Fifty-six Excaliburs spread across four upper balconies with 18 units on each of four catwalks were used to create expansive visual panoramas. “From the throw distance, there is currently no other product on the market that could fulfill the roles we needed those lights to fulfill.” Considering the scale of the production, as well as the fact that it also needed to be lit for broadcast, the overall size of the rig—fewer than 700 moving lights total—was relatively moderate and a testament to the efficiency of the design and rig.


The event was a first-of-its-kind in that a major opening ceremony production with such elaborate scenic and staging had never occurred on this scale for a football tournament. Furthermore, the event took place directly on the hallowed football pitch itself and all scenic and staging had to be cleared in under 30 minutes to prepare for the tournament’s opening match which took place directly afterwards.

The event marked a significant milestone for producer Katara Studios as well, as it was one of the first times they had fully produced a show of such magnitude in-house. “Katara did all the right things,” Greil remarked. “They hired the right people and brought together a worldclass team in all departments to create a beautiful theatrical show.”

Collaborative success

Overall, the event was a huge success with challenges overcome, including the limited time allotted for build-up and tear down (which was completed in 27 minutes!). “We adapted workflows and routines to the schedule, and it worked flawlessly.”

Reflecting on the collaborative success, Greil expressed gratitude to lighting vendor PRG for their unwavering support and excellent collaboration throughout the project. “This event exemplifies the power of teamwork and collaboration in overcoming challenges to deliver a beautiful show. It was a great team effort from all departments,” he concluded.


Lighting Design: Roland Greil

Stage Design & Visuals Creative Director: Artur Kond/ Sila Sveta

Katara Studios Executive Creative Director: Ahmed Al Baker

General Producers: Alexey Rozov & Alexander Us

Katara Studios Executive Producer: Mahmoud Hamaky

Producer: Magrifa Kamayeva

Show Director: Slava Kualev

Broadcast Director: Marek Mill

Technical Director: Shannon Gobell

Associate Lighting Design: Troy Eckerman

LX Programmer & Studio Associate: Michael Kuehbandner

LX Programmer: Markus Neubauer

Design Assistant & Spot Caller: Tom Levin

Audio Design: Scott Willsallen

Staging & Automation: Stage One

LX Vendor: PRG

Audio Vendor: Agora

Rigging Vendor: Es:Me

Photos: Katara Studios

About Elation

Elation, represents the elite in the lighting industry. They design and manufacture a comprehensive range of best-in-class entertainment lighting products valued by production/rental houses and lighting designers the world over. Their dedication to extraordinary quality and creative solutions has established them as the go-to choice for professionals. With a storied legacy of brilliance, their influence extends from iconic stages to cutting-edge studios across the globe. Theyalso offer an advanced line of lighting control products through Obsidian Control Systems, as well as a full range of dependable specialty effects called