|Eclipse - the supplier of official graphics products for EURO 2004|
|Wednesday, 21 July 2004 07:46|
The Prague printing house Eclipse was responsible for manufacturing a large, and highly prestigious job related to the football championship in Portugal. In fact, Prague was the place where the company manufactured all the official UEFA graphics decorating all ten stadiums where the championship was played.
The order was submited by A&L company, partner of UEFA for this championship, to the Affiche Europeenne Lisabon, Portuguese branch of the European holding Impression. It was manufactured in Eclipse, Prague, as within the holding company, this printing house had the best technical background to make the job (digital and sublimation printing). The confidence of the client was gained thanks to a good price, combined with good manufacturing background, capacity, references and guarantees, which Eclipse (and Impression) could offer, as one of the largest European printing houses of its kind.
The job has been prepared and produced since the beginning of this year. The strict terms of the contract, however, only allowed us to publicise this job after the championship was over. The well known graphics and emblems of Euro 2004 (yellow-orange-brown motifs displaying a heart, a soccer ball, etc.) decorated every suitable space of each stadium.
It all started right on the grass, with a round flag on the central circle, seen before the start of each match. During the opening ceremony, the motif on the flag would change from "Get ready" to a ball in the colours of the Euro games. Alternatives or additional motives were the blue circles with the text "50 years of UEFA”, or the symbol of "Fair Play figure and doll" . The flags, 15 m in diameter, were printed on 5 m wide polyester fabric on Vutek 5300 machines, and sewn into a single piece. The seams were strengthened by straps, which carried eyelets to be used by the "flag-bearers". The flag with two motifs was made and sewn together in a double sided, "doughnut-like" fashion. Pulling two fourths of the flag aside by strings would change the motif displayed. To keep the colours the same on any background (on the grass, and on the second layer of the flag) a third, white inner layer had to be sewn in between the two layers. Interestingly, only four of these flags were made, and a separate team of flag-bearers travelled the cities'of Portugal with the flag, to see the kick-off of each game. For the opening ceremony, classical flags on poles were also made, including national flags and those bearing the logo of the championship and the text "We Love Football" in the languages of every participant - printed digitally on polyester flag fabric.
Other elements of stadium decoration consisted in entry gates from the changing rooms to the football ground. These were constructions covered by self-adhesive foil, bearing the name of the city against the background of the EURO motif. They were printed with digital technology. The horizontal surfaces around the stadium (railings and walls of the tribunes, attics of all roofs, etc.) were mostly covered by purely decorative materials carrying the logo of the championships. Digital printing was used onto vinyl sheet, various methods of attaching the materials to the stadium structure were applied (eyelets, pockets, folded fabric, ...) This was a particularly challenging part of the job in terms of precision in specification and manufacturing, as every one piece out of the many thousands of square metres of material was in fact an original, tailor-made for a given place within the stadium.
Some seats in the stadiums could not, or were not allowed to, be occupied by spectators. Either because the view was blocked by an obstacle (mostly a construction for TV cameras) or due to safety or capacity reasons. These seats were covered. To make the cover, pieces of polyester flag fabric of varying length bearing the printed EURO emblem were used. They covered the vertical rows of seats and were attached by rubber rope, laced through plastic eyelets mounted on the fabric. The sublimation printing method was used - primary printing on screen, followed by transfer onto flag fabric using a thermal transfer calender. In total, the material consisted of a 6,5 km long band, 150 cm wide. 26,000 plastic eyelets were used.
Large megaboards bearing the Euro logo and smaller logos of the sponsors were placed near the large format projector screens and score displays. Similar graphics was placed on other walls, columns, and other structures inside and outside the stadiums. Large amounts of material with advertising graphics was used to decorate the stadium interiors - corridors, passageways, halls, large rooms, press centres… In total, this required thousands of square metres of vinyl, mesh and flags, with single-side and two-side printing, and adequate finishing techniques applied - high frequency welding, strengthening stripes, invisible seams, metallic and plastic eyelets, pockets, folds, sewing, tapes, snap hooks, ropes, cords, etc. Most of the material was printed digitally. About ten thousand clear stickers were also made in various sizes, bearing a white or silver championship logo. This part was printed by screen printing, and cut on the impact cutting press. The stickers were used in interiors to decorate walls and glass, and in entrance halls, turnstiles, changing rooms, official cars and buses, etc.
The entire job was quite a challenge, both in terms of manufacturing, and transport logistics. The organisers only had a few days after the end of the Portuguese national league to change the decoration of the stadiums into the colours of the Euro. All products had to be delivered to the right place at the right time, and therefore were loaded in Prague separately, depending on the destination. The accession of the Czech Republic to the EU helped too - shortly before the time of shipping, the export procedure was simplified significantly. Even details such as precise marking of each package with graphics had to be done with great attention. Small extra requests and "on-line" changes were made successfully at the last minute, and the day before the start of the championship everything was ready.
When the entire printing house was in true Euro mood, and football dominated the atmosphere across the Czech Republic, Eclipse printed a well known flag for fans, including some staff members, bearing the "King Karel" text (15x30m), and celebrating the Czech coach Brückner, which was to be unfolded inside the seating area for fans during the Czech Republic - Denmark quarter finals. Unfortunately, due to bureaucratic obstacles the flag could not make it to the stadium, so it could be used during the semi-finals to decorate Old Town Square in Prague, where viewers watched the match on a large screen.
The Euro job was the largest job to date made by Eclipse in co-operation with an affiliated company, after it became part of the Impression holding. Such international co-operation is a source of more orders, enabling continuous technological development, benefiting local sales branches and their clients. Euro 2004 in Portugal is a successful, key reference job for Eclipse, visible to millions of viewers.