Live from Rio 2016: Panasonic Plays Key Role for Ceremonies, Olympic News Channel Ops

Panasonic’s Imaging Network Business Division is once again on hand at an Olympics games, providing technologies and support that played an important part during the Opening Ceremony (the projectors and production switcher that played a key part in the staging and production were all provided by Panasonic) as well as a massive technical deployment of equipment in use by OBS for athlete interviews, press conferences, and Olympic News Channel operations.

(left-to-right) Panasonic INB Division's Koji Yamamoto, Kunihiko Miyagi, and Kiyoshi Tsumagari are on hand at the Rio Olympics where Panasonic has more than 100 P2 cameras and decks in use by OBS.

(left-to-right) Panasonic INB Division’s Koji Yamamoto, Kunihiko Miyagi, and Kiyoshi Tsumagari are on hand at the Rio Olympics where Panasonic has more than 100 P2 cameras and decks in use by OBS.

Kunihiko Miyagi, director of Panasonic’s INBD Professional Video Business Unit and Kiyoshi Tsumagari, INBD general manager of sales/marketing, flew in from Osaka, Japan near the end of the games to see firsthand how the Panasonic support team of 10 professionals and the equipment was holding up.

“Our mission is to contribute to the growth of the imaging culture and also to our customer’s success and the mission of the Olympic games is to support the sports,” says Miyagi. “So here our mission is aligned to support the games as well as the Olympics mean a lot to us and is a way to evolve our technology and innovation.”

This year the Olympic News Channel is using 100 Panasonic AJ-PX500 camcorders and 100 recorder decks operating in AVC-Intra100 mode in a wide variety of news gathering applications. In addition, there are more than 1,300 Panasonic monitors being used all across Rio at various venues as well as the IBC. There are also more than 100 Panasonic LED screens at the various venues to provide information and replays for fans in the stands.

The Panasonic relationship with the Olympics goes all the way back to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics but it was in 1992 when the company became a technology partner with the Olympics host broadcast division (now OBS).

It was still a tape-based world back then and one of the new developments then was Panasonic’s D3 format which offered up digital acquisition. Panasonic also provided three turnkey production systems for those games that were used at the IBC and the athletics and gymnastic venues.

“It was a very good challenge for us,” says Koji Yamamoto, Panasonic INBD, deputy general manager.

The current relationship with OBS runs through the 2024 games, the location of which is still to be determined. But between now and then will be the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“The Tokyo games will have a very big meaning for us and we will provide a total solution,” says Miyagi. “Between now and then we need to develop new technologies and innovate and provide the newest technology for the newest way of viewing the Olympics. There will an evolution of image quality that includes 4K, 8K, and HDR. We will develop 8K technologies toward 2020.”

Progress on the 8K front is already being made as at the London Olympics recording 8K signals required more than 30 P2 decks to be tied together to record one signal. Now that recording can be done in a small unit only a couple of racks tall.

And then there is the potential for the VR format.

“We now have a 360-degree camera so the viewer can view it as if they are at the event,” says Miyagi. “We already have an HD prototype and we are close to developing an 8K version.”

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