That was absolutely spectacular. If you didn't see it, you really missed out. I can't even begin to describe it all. I really liked the globe thing with the people running around it (if you watched the ceremony, then you know what I'm talking about). You can find lots of videos on YouTube.
I had to pick my jaw up off my lap when the grand finale and the lighting of the Olympic torch were complete. WOW! This YouTube video was taken at a slightly different viewing angle than the NBC footage, but still gives you a feel for it.
I suppose it shouldn't come as any surprise that they really know how to put on a good fireworks show in China.
Update 8/9/2008: My Aunt Ruth forwarded me this article from Gizmodo by Elaine Chow:
So for those of you who caught the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony last night—Holy crap, right? The synchronization, the music, the timed fireworks; it was a spectacle so awesome that for entire stretches of it, I couldn't really think of anything to say but “woah.” It almost goes without saying, the show owes a lot of its splendor to the absolutely amazing amount of technology that went into it. Chinese news sources now have a breakdown of what was employed to create something that'd make a billion nationals proud. Some crazy stats:
• The LED screen at the center of the ground, which unrolled to represent a huge scroll detailing China's 5,000-year civilization, measured 482 feet by 72 feet wide and contained a whopping 44,000 LED beads with a distance of 600 millimeters between each two.
• Technical monitoring systems were employed to keep track of over 18,000 performers through identification codes, a first for any Olympics.
• The fireworks used a digital ignition control system that coordinated blasts in over 30 locations across Beijing. According to Cai Guoqiang, the explosions maestro behind that part of the show, not a single of the 40,000 cannon shots faltered.
• The material used for the paper on the painting scroll was produced by the country's aerospace sector. Similarly, most of the core technologies used in the ceremony had been developed by domestic companies.
As was stated by broadcasters over and over again, China's a country of tremendous challenges—environmental, economic and human rights-wise—and as a journalist heading into that mess some time in the near future, I'm all too aware of the problems that await me. But after last night's performance, I walked away with a small overflow of pride for my heritage and a lot of hope for a brighter future. I guess that's what the Olympics are all about. [Xinhua]