The 2008 Beijing Olympics were not only the first games to be broadcast in full HDTV, but also the first games to make extensive use of high-speed digital cameras. After competitive testing in April, host broadcaster Beijing Olympic Broadcasting (BOB) chose ARRI Media as the official supplier of high-speed HD cameras. They requested as many of ARRI’s Hi-Motion systems as could be made available in time.
“The great challenge has been creating the infrastructure required to enable total coverage of such a huge range of events,” said Andy Hayford, ARRI Media’s digital high speed manager. “High speed has not been used much at past Olympics because neither the technology nor the infrastructure was in place. Hi-Motion was perfectly placed for this year’s Olympics, because it is a true HD camera and has such a proven ability to integrate with OB infrastructures. It provides footage fast enough and of sufficient quality to be used extensively through a live event.”
Hi-Motion came of age at just the right time to be part of the huge step forward in presenting such a complex event to a worldwide audience in HD. As the market leader in the field of high-speed digital cinematography at live broadcast events, the Hi-Motion camera had already been used for a wide range of sports. This proved to be ideal preparation for the diverse challenges of an Olympics at which seven Hi-Motion cameras filmed 11 different events.
One interesting Hi-Motion setup was used for the two marathons and the two cycle road races. The Hi-Motion camera was mounted on a gyroscopically controlled remote head that was itself mounted to a specially adapted Lexus camera car. This was the first time a high-speed camera had been vehicle-mounted for the live broadcast of an Olympic event.
Footage from the Hi-Motion cameras was integrated by BOB into its main coverage, which was supplied to all of the rights-holding broadcasters. Each of these broadcasters, such as the BBC, could also locate Hi-Motion clips on the BOB media server and edit them into their own post-produced programs and highlight montages.
Although the cameras were supplied on a rental basis, representatives from ARRI Media were on-site in Beijing to ensure that the integration of the Hi-Motion cameras into the live coverage of each event was as seamless as possible. They also provided training for the operators and technicians who had not used the system before.
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