The Olympics may be over, though the Paralympics are still to come, so now seems as good a time as any to do a quick round up of some of the things that caught my eye over the last few weeks and maybe idle a few thoughts about how the Olympic Broadcasting Service‘s event coverage may change in four years time.
I’ve already posted a quick round-up of some of the tech involved in Camera Tracking, Sports Data Overlays and Augmented TV, (I can’t wait to see if Lorenz Matzat tries to reimplement some of the ideas using Open CV!), and I’m convinced the layering approach will continue to be extended over the coming years, but it’ll be interesting to see whether “onion-skinning” style graphics will spin off print/static image equivalents (the New York Times have already done interactive equivalents of course: eg How to Win: The Vault).
I’m yet to be convinced by the bullet-time 3D Effects (see for example a BBC R&D post about this sort of effect: i3dLive, [explanatory video]) but I can see it being used increasingly as and when the technique is fully commercialised (if it isn’t already? Though I’m not sure who by?):
Some of the most striking views of the games this time round came from a variety of extreme camera platforms:
- Helicopter mounted cameras: How the London Olympics were filmed from above reviews how helicopter flown cameras provided by Aerial Camera Systems (who also offer blimp flown cameras) were used to provide coverage of the opening ceremony, cycling and sailing events.
- wire/cable flown cameras: Cable camera reveals the dynamics of rowing describes something of the set up of the cable flown camera used to cover the rowing, suggesting that the system used there was one operated by CamCat Systems:
Similar coverage was provided in the main stadium and over the Serpentine (and probably elsewhere too? Please leave a note in the comments if you spotted cable-flown camera footage anywhere else…;-)
FWIW, other cable-flown camera providers are available, including: CableCam and SkyCam (which are both part of the same corporate group, maybe?) and FlyCam.
- other remote/robot camera mounts: where health and safety regs or security precautions say photographers can’t go, so the machines step in – Reuters cooks up remote camera rigs for 2012 Olympics, mounts them where humans can’t treadRobot Cameras. Machines are also handy for grabbing underwater footage: Underwater cameras
- athlete POV (Point-of-view) cameras: I couldn’t find any references, but I’m pretty sure I remember seeing POV footage from at least the cycling, swimming and rowing?
I didn’t see anything about the use of drones, though? In fact, a quick trawl didn’t turn up any write-ups of any sports-drones, although the control room technology around live broadcasts may, apparently, inform the way drone warriors conduct their operations: How ESPN Taught the Pentagon to Handle a Deluge of Drone Data? I did find something about drones in farming, though! What’ll be interesting is whether we start to see amateur sports footage from DIY Drones on Youtube before we start to see professional footage using commercial drones such as the Orbit microdrone UAV.
Providing commercial access to results data seems to be one of the Olympics moneyspinners, which is maybe why I found it so hard to find rich data feeds (e.g Olympics Data Feeds – Scribbled Notes). The Columbia Journalism Review did a round up of some of the data led reporting ( (Between the Spreadsheets) and the folks over at the Guardian datablog also commented on this issue: London 2012 and data journalism: what did we learn at the Olympics?
I’m not sure if Twitter will still be around in the same form in four years time, but surely there’ll be social media engagement of some sort around the event: as a reference point, here’s How the UK tweeted the  Games. How folk will view the Olympics is also changing – here’s how consumption appeared from the BBC perspective: The story of the digital Olympics: streams, browsers, most watched, four screens
I also wonder wether we’ll start to see FanVision like apps appearing (for purchase) on smartphones, with datatainment and video replay apps subscribing to wifi multicast feeds (hmmm….) within the Olympic park/venues?
PS I got bored writing this post, so it’s really just a link blog round-up… Just back from hols and already I need another one:-(