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Image of Crystal Palace National Sports Centre interior

Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in Meet the Superhumans advert

Date posted: 01.09.2012

As the world's attention turned to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, official broadcaster Channel 4 launched a multimillion-pound TV ad campaign featuring some of Team GB's top paralympic athletes as well as their coaches and event spectators. The biggest campaign run since their launch in 1982, Crystal Palace National Sports Centre provided an impressive backdrop to recreate the exhilarating atmosphere inside the Olympic Park.

Titled Meet the Superhumans and featuring the Public Enemy track, Harder Than You Think, the advert ran simultaneously across 78 channels in July and continued to air in the run up to the Paralympics, which is now in full swing with Team GB scooping a number of medals to date.

The ad features nation favourite, swimmer Ellie Simmonds, alongside the GB mens wheelchair basketball team with their coach, Murray treseder, sprinters Jonnie Peacock and Kyle Powell, wheelchair racer, Hannah Cockroft and cyclist Jody Cundy as well as young spectators seen watching with baited breath.

A sizeable location, Crystal Palace National Sports Centre played its part in providing a venue backdrop to suitably and realistically recreate the thrilling Games atmosphere as we see the athletes preparing and competing.

The size of the venue meant that it was able to accommodate the scale of the production, where numbers totalled 400 individuals with idents and equipment, without difficulty. 

A Grade II listed building, the athletics stadium within the Sports Centre has a capacity of 15,500, which can be increased up to 24,000 with temporary seating. The complex also hosts a 50m swimming pool.

Taking place over one day, the shoot ran smoothly and Location Manager Algy Sloane recognises the adaptability and versatility of the space, having turned an indoor 5-a-side pitch into a studio. Sloane said, "Crystal Palace is a hidden gem. [It] easily accommodated us. There were many spaces that we used for facilities, including parking the whole unit up, without any problems."

The campaign also made full use of the variety of interiors on offer, including the main hall, which features cathedral like pillars and a mix of wood and concrete. The stadium itself, with its indoor running track and weight lifting area, was used to create scenes of the athletes in action. Sloane added, "There are so many different backdrops."

Channel 4 Producer, Rory Fry, noted how the space allowed them to recreate realistic crowd shots. 300 background and crowd replications were used to support the Team GB Wheelchair Rugby Team, suggesting a crowded venue which was replicated in post production.

Fry added, "We also made use of the stadium area for further crowd plate shots, the multiple sport facilities in one venue really worked to our advantage."

Crystal Palace National Sports Centre was opened in 1964 in the former parkland close to the site of the Palace, usurping part of the former Grand Prix circuit.

It was one of the five National Sports Centres run on behalf of Sport England, with responsibility now transferred to the London Development Agency.  As host to international athletics meetings, the property is managed by Greenwich Leisure Limited.

For filming enquiries, contact Jeremy Webster, Service Manager, on cpnsceventsandfilming@gll.org / 020 8778 0131