London Olympics: the world's biggest AV install

posted on Tuesday, 5th June 2012 by Steve May

Panasonic  LED  2012 Olympics 

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Panasonic is pulling out all the stops for the 2012 London Olympics, delivering the largest supply of AV equipment for any Olympic event in history. The company, which has been an Olympic technology partner for 25 years, is furnishing every aspect of the event, from acquisition and broadcast to athlete accommodation.  

The roll-out includes 48 super-large LED display systems for 28 outside venues, 47 103-inch plasmas for inside venues (the first time PDP has been used in this way) and 12,000 consumer VIERA TVs, to be installed in the athlete's village and associated media centre.

"We've been working on this project for five years," Sean Taylor, senior manager for Panasonic's London Olympic Project Office told Inside CI at the company's Olympic launch party. "We've been working closely on all the feasibility studies, the design and the installation of the AV equipment in all venues. When the equipment goes in, it's not LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) doing it, it's us."

Taylor says one of the fundamental reasons for sponsoring the games is the supply contract. "Over the next three to four weeks, we've got a ridiculous job moving all the equipment into all the venues. The London Games have been particularly challenging because of the number of test events, the most its ever done. Normally we would do two test events, but for these Games we've done seven. We're also deeply involved doing the technical rehearsals. We've been through 60 scenarios trying to break everything, but the equipment and systems have all worked fine."

Panasonic has been working with the IOC for over 25 years, he says. "They know we are a very solid product manufacturer, they know we can deliver the games."

The London Games will be pushing the boundaries of LED technology, adds Taylor. "Every single venue has Panasonic LED technology in it. This is one of our biggest deliveries, in terms of size and logistics. The largest screens, which feature hundreds of thousands of LEDs, will be sat in the middle of a river in the Olympic Park. There will be a barge which will feature two 143 square metre screens either side, creating an amphitheatre effect. 5,000 people will be able to watch from each side. The size beats anything seen at Beijing, or any of the other games for that matter."

World's smallest, lightest 20,000 lumens projector
The 2012 Games will also mark the deployment of the world's smallest and lightest 20,000 lumens projector, Panasonic's new PT-DZ21K Series. Stacked installations will be used extensively throughout the opening and closing ceremonies, reveals Ralph Higson, director of Panasonic's Olympic Project team. The 3-Chip DLP projector also offers relatively low power consumption, approximately 2,300 watts.

"Although we've been a sponsor for many, many years, we've never brought out a projector to be used in the opening ceremony," he says. "But now we have. Existing 20,000 lumen projectors are typically enormous, but our model is half the size of everyone else's, thanks in part to our unique bulb technology. It also offers half the energy consumption of any other projector on the market."

Other features include a geometric adjustment function that allows projected images to be shaped and wrapped around specially shaped screens and surfaces. Contrast is rated at 10,000:1.

Although the company refused to be drawn on the nature of the opening ceremony, it has revealed that the spectacle will be inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest and has been poetically entitled 'Isles of Wonder.'

London games to host 8K trial
Panasonic is also supplying a prototype 145-inch 8K plasma display for the event, which will be used as part of an acquisition experiment being conducted by NHK and the BBC. An NHK 8K camera rig will be used to record specific events, however the results will not be available for the public to view. The groundbreaking PDP will be located in the media centre.

Conversly, all visitors to the Olympic Park will be able to visit Panasonic's corporate pavilion, dubbed the Panasonic Full HD 3D Theatre, throughout the games (July 28 - Aug 12). Inside will be three giant plasmas (one152-inch, and two 103-inchers) which will relay live coverage of the gymnastics, swimming and synchronized swimming in 3D. The company is partnering with the IOC and the Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) to produce over 200 hours of live 3D coverage, courtesy of 30 AG-3DP1 twin-lens 3D cameras.

"I can also tell you something else," confides Taylor. "Every Olympic Gold medal winner will also be given a Panasonic TV. We might even throw in a Blu-ray player..."

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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