The Opening Ceremony Of The 2000 Olympic Games

A Sydney Celebration

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Olympics Menu Audio and Animation
Rating Exempt
Year Released 2000
Running Time
DVD 1: 109:42 minutes
DVD 2: 177:39 minutes
(not 300 minutes as stated on packaging) 
RSDL/Flipper Disc 1: No/No
Disc 2: RSDL (99:28)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Advert, then Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Various
Warner Vision
Warner Vision Australia
Starring Whole lot of people
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $49.95 Music Various

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 320 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio No
16x9 Enhancement No
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision ?Yes Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement Yes, adverts
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

The Source Material

    Sorry to start with this particular topic, but this transfer has caused something of a stir. In the spirit of attempting to be fair to all concerned, as well as to provide as accurate a picture as possible, we sought the assistance of Warner Vision Australia and through them DVM who authored the DVD. We would like to thank in particular Daryl O'Connor and Brian Rollason from the respective organizations for their assistance in providing significant additional information to us.

    Broadly speaking, the issue of the transfer gets down to the usual question of licensing, as ever with just about everything to do with the Olympics. To clarify the main points:

    Obviously there are a lot of legal matters to be covered when putting together a release like this, and these do have an impact on what is available for release. The broad situation is that if you want a record of the Opening Ceremony, then you will have little option but this release. The only real possibility for a "better" source material is the official IOC record which in theory could be released at some future date - but commercial realism says that is unlikely to happen.

Plot Synopsis

    Once every four years, in some sort of Pagan ritual, the world gathers in some city that has paid an inordinate amount of money to put on the ultimate glorification of drug abuse. Each one of these rituals seems to be produced on the basis that no matter how overly boring the previous Games, no matter how over-budget the previous Games ran and no matter how much of a financial loss the previous Games incurred, the next one will do it better. And so Sydney, Australia got its chance to outdo the world and produced what in my view was the most boring and lengthy opening ceremony ever. I of course realize that I am in a very small minority in my views here, but I happen to believe that the Olympic Games is (or at least should be) about the purity of the competition, not about how long-winded we can make an opening ceremony. March the athletes in to garner the accolades of the crowd, light the flame and get on with the Games - and forget the peripheral rubbish I say. Okay, it would not make for exciting television, but after having sat through this four hour plus extravaganza, I doubt that this made riveting television either. I have long held the belief that the IOC long ago forgot what the Olympic Games was supposed to be about and everything about the Olympic Games since about 1972 has had less to do with the purity of the competition and more about raking in as many bucks as possible to assuage the gluttony of the members of the IOC.

    And unfortunately that means that Channel 7 (usually) keep fronting up with huge dollars to gain the rights to the Olympic Games, and therefore get another chance to prove how utterly bad they are at broadcasting. I thought their performance at Atlanta in 1996 was so bad that it could not be topped (or is that bottomed?). I was wrong. The 27th Olympiad was another nail in the coffin of their broadcasting abilities, and it was evident from the very first hour of the Opening Ceremony. I avoided this on television (and pretty much the entire Olympics to be truthful) and I am really regretting having stuck my hand up to review the DVD. That Channel 7 commentary is diabolical, headed by Bruce "3.7 billion - that's more than 3 billion" McAvaney, and with the likes of Garry"3.7 million" Wilkinson and Ernie "G'day mob"Dingo adding in their insights. Where is that silencer when you need it? The commentary is riddled with gaffes and I am staggered that the commentary team weren't instantly taken out behind Stadium Australia at the conclusion of the show and shot. Talking over the top of each other, jumping all over the place with incomplete commentary and generally creating as big a cock-up as is humanly possible - have they ever heard of the adage that if you have not got anything useful to say, keep quiet? And that is before we even get to the imagery. All I can say is what 3.7 billion Chinese, Indians, Europeans, Africans and so on quite made of all that stuff going on in the arena I would only wish to hazard a guess at. A spectacle with minimal substance. The only real highlights for me were the appearance of the South Korean and North Korean teams as one unified team marching under a unified Korean flag, and the appearance of the independent athletes from East Timor. Now that is what the Olympic Games is supposed to be about!

    Okay, you get the picture that this is something that did not impress me at all. Frankly I truly regret having stuck my hand up to review this DVD. None of this is of course the fault of Warner Vision Australia nor DVM. They got lumbered with the product and have to release what is available. Personally, I think that Channel 7 should be made to write an individual apology to every Australian for the diabolical commentary they provided.. I struggle to understand why anyone, other than performers, athletes or immediate family, would want to actually sit down and watch this four hour plus piece of drivel over and over again. Once is more than enough for me.

Transfer Quality


    After the complaints about the Channel 7 watermark, the next most serious complaint about the video is the fact that there is a very lengthy commercial prior to the commencement of the show on both discs. As we have mentioned before on the site, this is indeed skippable - just not with the chapter skip button on Disc 1. To skip the commercial on Disc 1, you need to use the Title button on your remote. You can also use the fast forward (scan) button. Unfortunately, the advert for the electronics company that sponsored the video is not quite so accommodating and there did not seem to be any way to skip it. This presents an ideal time to make a cuppa before taking the disc out of the player and inserting the second disc (which by the way is not actually prompted by the video - you sort of have to know that Part One has finished and Part Two is on the other disc). Further complaints have been made about the actual quality of the video transfer, with some having apoplexy about the transfer being overcompressed. Well read on...

    If you had not guessed it by now, the transfer is presented in a Full Frame format and it is no 16x9 enhanced.

    Considering that this is television material and that there were over two hundred cameras used, this is actually not too bad a transfer. It is generally pretty sharp with plenty of detail on offer. Unfortunately a few odd cameras had the odd problem with focus, but nothing that any reasonable person would argue about in a four hour plus show. The video transfer is in general quite clear and this helps bring out some of the more subtle detail of the spectacle. There is nothing much in the way of grain and low level noise did not seem to be an issue either.

    One of the great positives of the spectacle was the use of colour and thankfully this transfer does the whole show justice in the extreme. This is generally a bright, vibrant transfer that really has some great colour highlights dotted throughout the show. Despite the bright, vibrant colours there is generally not a problem with oversaturation (just the odd hint here and there when the reds get to predominate) and you can forget colour bleed. So yes, there are indeed some positives here.

    However there are some negatives and here they are. There seemed to be some slight problems with MPEG artefacting throughout the transfer, mainly in the form of some blockiness in the image at times and this does get just a little off-putting on occasions. Some of the worst offenders are early on, in shots of the stadium which seem anything but solid in the background. Whilst I would not going overboard and condemning the transfer, it is a fact that the problems are there and on the wrong sort of display device, they will be a serious problem. My guess is that if you are watching this on a smaller television screen (68 cm or of that nature) then this may not be much of an issue. On a big screen however... There is a consistent, albeit generally quite minor problem throughout the transfers with aliasing, with many straight edges showing quite obvious lack of solidity. It never becomes ugly but after three or four hours it becomes just a little too much to ignore. There are no problems at all with film artefacts as far as I can see.

    The mastering of the two DVDs seems to be a little odd. Disc 1 is a plain old single sided, single layer DVD so no problems there. However, Disc 2 is an RSDL formatted DVD, but the DVD seems to be split into four separate sections of mastered product, with separate timing coding for each that resets to zero after the section end. I am therefore guessing that the layer change is after the end of the second section, which places the layer change at 99:28 overall on the DVD. Each of the searches between each section is not especially well-handled and all are just a little too noticeable due to their lethargy. There have been some complaints around about the fact that DVD 2 pauses at each nation in the Parade of Nations. This was not an issue on my setup and apart from the three section changes that occur during the Parade of Nations, the seemingly zillion chapters are seamless.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Whilst silence would have been preferred, review etiquette dictates that I had to listen to the full 287 minutes of the soundtrack. I think that warrants some sort of medal.

    The dialogue regrettably comes up very clear and easy to understand in the transfer. There did not appear to be any real problem with audio sync in the transfer.

    The original music used in the Ceremony comes from a variety of sources. Whilst I could cheerfully have done without the appalling fanfare from James Morrison, most of the music seemed appropriate and well done. The musical highlight of the whole show for me was the rendition of the National Anthem from Julie Anthony, although the 2,000 strong marching band was something pretty special too.

    Apart from a brief audio drop out between 1:05 and 1:06, there is nothing much wrong with the audio side of things at all. Okay, it is not a 5.1 master, but what can we reasonably expect from a television presentation? The music and crowd ambience was presented well enough, even though there is no surround channel nor bass channel action here at all.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There is nothing on offer here apart from a brief interview with Ric Birch, Director of Ceremonies, after the Ceremony is over and before the end credits. It only lasts about five minutes or so and is decent enough, but how do you boil four and a half hours, 12,700 performers, 5,000 support staff and a stuck flame cauldron down into five minutes? Since it is actually included in the feature presentation, it really does not qualify as an extra as such.


    Nothing especially memorable about these even though there is a little animation and audio enhancement to them.

R4 vs R1

    This has not been released in Region 1 and in all likelihood will not be released in Region 1.


    I should have stuck to my guns and avoided this completely. However, if you really must have a lasting memento of the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games, this is not too bad at all, minor video problems aside. At times you do just wish for something a little better, most especially in the commentary side of things, but for the reasons stated above, it is not going to happen. Basically you take this one warts and all, or not at all.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
24th November 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL