For three years from 1999 to 2001, Osaka City is organizing various prologue and welcoming events for the new century. Osaka Castle Park dominated by its famous castle tower was the venue for the first of these events, entitled "A Canopy of Light and Sound" and conceived as a countdown event to usher in the new millennium.
On New Year's Eve, namely the countdown day, the turnout of people was even bigger than expected.
At the main venue, using the castle tower as a backdrop, fireworks and a laser show greeted the year 2000, as onlookers cheered and witnessed the historic moment. The themes of this event, light and sound, were in evidence all over the venue. A section of the road from Osakajokoen station to the main venue was turned into "A Canopy of Light and Sound" rivaling the famous Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. The magical atmosphere made a deep impression on visitors.
The Canopy of Light and Sound was constructed in a 60 meter long by 8 meters wide section of the tree-lined street.
The advantage of being able to use the trees as structural elements was fully integrated in the planning. Silver balls in the trees with different color illumination for the trunk and branches create a beautiful and detailed effect. Wires spanning the width of the street serve to support seven giant snowflakes specially created for the occasion and conceived as a gates of light. The snowflakes symbolizing the Canopy of Light and Sound have a diameter of 1.5 meters and were carefully handmade by skilled craftsmen. Construction of the entire installation was no simple matter. Making use of technology developed for opera productions, mesh screens on both sides of the street show images that are visible only when lit. Frames erected between the trees support 16 computer-controlled moving lights with various gobos. Eight smoke machines and two pairs of main speakers, one at each end, plus 10 sub speakers complete the system. The equipment layout was designed to fill the entire space with light and sound.
At five p.m., as the sun begins to go down, the show comes alive. Accompanied by an enchanting tapestry of sound, blue lights rise upwards, accentuating the silent fade-in of the snowflakes. In a dramatic change of mood, the scene then erupts with fast-paced sound and smoke effects, and light beams criss-cross the night sky while rapidly changing color. A moment of stillness, then a passenger plane takes off into the distance, to the sound of its engines. With the color theme changing from purple to pink, images of cherry blossoms in the premises of the Osaka Mint Bureau, the sound of the Tenjin festival and its fireworks, as well as various other famous Osaka scenes then unfold before the eyes of the visitors. The multi-colored "2000" moniker points towards the Year 2000 World Folklore Festival "Wasshoi 2000" to be held in Osaka in July. Folk music from all over the globe provides the background for dances of light on the screens. The scene then changes to a dream of the future, imagining the Olympics 2008 in Osaka. Flower petals forming the Olympic rings, various sports scenes, the audience cheering... Into the lingering impression then bursts the dynamic ending with a series of dramatic light, sound and smoke effects. The 8-minute show is repeated four times per hour, while the illuminated trees and glittering snowflakes also enchant visitors during the intervals.
Lighting techniques perfected on a day-to-day basis, as well as elements imported from overseas were put to best use, achieving the maximum staging effect within a limited budget.