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The Olympics are a great way for nations around the world to come together and unite in one of the finest delicacies of the modern era – friendly competition. While there isn’t really much of a prize given to the winning nation, it certainly comes with its fair share of bragging rights, and provides a great deal of suspenseful entertainment along the way.
Over the years we’ve seen athletes get stronger, faster and better in some of the most physically intensive sports on the planet. Not only that, the way we experience these performances has also improved.
The Olympics aren’t quite what they used to be. We’ve seen revolutions in broadcast film from the first live viewing in Berlin’s 1936 Olympics, the first colour broadcast in the 1960s and the first high definition broadcast in the 1980s. This year is no different, as the 2016 Rio games will become the first to implement virtual reality into its viewing experience, along with a slew of other new technology to add to its video production arsenal.

1) 360 degree virtual reality camera

Last week we received the first sneak peek into virtual reality at the Rio Olympics, which revealed 85 hours of virtual reality content planned throughout the Olympics. The experiences will be available after the live events have concluded, and can be accessed from compatible virtual reality headset owners. This seems to be a trial period for the technology to test a), how immersive the content will be, and will answer the question, does virtual reality make sense for sports broadcasting; and b), how many people are interested in viewing sports content in virtual reality.


To view more information about virtual reality at Rio 2016, click here.


To view more information about 4K technology at Rio 2016, click here.

2) 4K footage

Mostly in part to NBC, hundreds of hours of 4K footage will be available to the average Joe all throughout the Olympics. While studies show many households haven’t yet adopted to the new technology, which requires you to purchase not only a new television, but also a fancy new cable box to go along with it (not cheap), NBC views it as a way to draw viewers from other popular broadcasting networks.
The 4K technology at the Rio games certainly isn’t news, but it definitely shows that major broadcasters are all-in when it comes to the next iteration of the crystal clear television experience, even if it doesn’t become a standard in households for another few years. It’s notable that super high definition cameras are also in use in many competitions for instant review/challenges.

3) Canon’s camera supply room

Okay, maybe it’s not a single camera (there’s almost 1000 of them), but what. A. Room. Canon photographers surely have no shortage of gear to turn to if they’re in a bind. Canon Professional Services (CPS) also has 78 support staff on hand to assist photographers as necessary throughout the games.
While they aren’t necessarily showcasing any new hardware, it’s no question Canon is leading the game when it comes to photography and reliability in high pressure, high risk situations like the Rio 2016 Olympics, where there is no second take for a shot.


To view more information about Canon’s stockpile, click here.


To view more information about Rio’s blimp-mounted cameras, click here.

4) Blimp-mounted cameras

When you watch the Rio Olympics your eyes will more than likely be focused on the talented athletes competing. This year’s Olympics will feature a new eye in the sky to keep track of everything going on at the games. While the purpose of this blimp-mounted camera is primarily for security, it’s unlikely that you may never see or hear about it if you’re watching on TV.
The blimp camera is a piece of new technology originally developed by Virginia-based Fairfax, intended for use by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan, but has found a new purpose in the western world. The blimp captures an area of almost 40 kilometres and can fly for a maximum of three days before footage must be offloaded and replaced with another in its place. We might never see any of the footage these cameras capture, but it’s still interesting to think about.

5) Drones in action

Drone’s certainly existed during the Olympics in London in 2012, but the technology has come a long way since then. For the first time, experts will test hovering drones for some of the exterior events like rowing to help improve the broadcast experience. Traditionally cable cameras are used for overhead shots (and they often still are), but drones can get much more unique perspectives. However, the only problem with using these drones in Olympics practice has to do with safety. The drones are much larger than the thousand dollar versions you might have seen on the Internet and require 30 metres of clear landing space in all directions. One thing we all know, is that the word “space” and “Olympics” generally don’t go together very well…unless you count the song by The Lonely Island…which is awesome 🙂


To view more information about Rio’s drones, click here.
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Chris Stasiuk

Author Chris Stasiuk

Chris is commercial director and founder of SVG, a Toronto based video content agency.

More posts by Chris Stasiuk

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