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OLYMPICS: IMMERSION AND INTERACTIVITY

30.06.2016

We’re reprinting an article published in the newspaper Estado de São Paulo on June 29, 2016:

 

Broadcasters want ‘immersion’ for viewers during Rio-2016

 

GUSTAVO ZUCCHI – SPECIAL REPORT TO O ESTADO – O ESTADO DE S. PAULO

June 29, 2016 | 10:00 am – Updated: June 29, 2016 | 10:36 am

 

Interactivity and quality of image are the bets

 

The key word for the broadcasting of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is immersion. The challenge facing the accredited broadcasters covering the event is to make the viewers at home feel like they’re closer to the arenas, the athletes, the journalists and other fans. Technology promises to be the great ally in this mission to increase the quality of the image that viewers will see and also offer interactivity. The task is to make the viewer stay in front of the television during the entire Games.

 

Among the new things that will debut at the Olympics in Brazil, is the ability to capture images in 4k UltraHD (the term means the number of pixels in the screen, 3,840 pixels horizontally and 2,160 pixels vertically). Globo, the official partner of the International Olympic Committee in transmitting the Games, has invested in a new mobile unit which can capture images using better technology. According to José Manuel Marino, director of technology for journalism and sports at Globo, even though 4k transmission is still in its infancy in Brazil, even for those with FullHD equipment, it will be visible in a few places offering a quality of image that will be superior to all others. In Olympic sports, this will make a difference. It will offer details of the athletes’ movements during training and races. “It can’t be denied that we’re looking to immerse the viewer more and more. We want viewers to feel that they’re in the arena, to feel that ‘they’re there.’ In this sense, devices have increased in size. Larger sizes offer greater immersion. When you increase the size of the screen, like any other graphic image, you need to diminish the size of the pixels so that you don’t lose resolution. This is what 4k and UltraHD television are about,” explains José Manuel. The mobile unit will also permit the capture of HDR (High Dynamic Range) images, a photographic method that improves visibility and helps distinguish between shadows and light. “Contemplating a mobile unit without this wouldn’t make sense.”

 

It’s important to distinguish between capturing 4k images and transmitting them. This, according to the director, is still a few years away in Brazil, because the technology is still in its infancy. It’s possible only through cable or the internet. Thus, only some of the content will be in UltraHD, including the opening ceremony of the Games.

 

INTERACTIVITY

 

The public’s voice, desires and wishes are also being discussed in relation to the broadcasting of the Rio Olympic Games. The mission, according to João Palomino, director of journalism and content at ESPN, is to be the viewer’s “remote control”: ‘if the viewer’s going to change the channel, we want it to be one of the three channels that are broadcasting the events of Rio-2016.’” Almost all the ‘players’ will broadcast the Olympics and the question is: how to differentiate oneself in the midst of such strong competition?” The solution will be, besides betting on the quality of the reporting, to allow the viewer to access better quality information the entire time.

 

“The technology that we’ve imported from Israel (I can’t give many details about this because it’s something we’ll be using during the Olympics) will allow us to provide viewers at home with instant information which will attract their attention and enable sports fans to have continual access to information, including what we’re showing on each channel,” says Palomino. “It’s completely interactive in conjunction with the social networks. We intend for our sports fans to stay tuned and not feel the need to switch channels.”

 

Globo and ESPN are also betting on offering more in-depth information during the Games. While the Rio de Janeiro broadcaster promises to extend the use of its “tactics table,” which it already uses to analyze soccer, to other sports such as basketball and volleyball, the cable channel will use technology to bring statistics to its viewers in a different way through a medium called Data ESPN. “We’ve invested not only here in Brazil, but also in the United States to take these statistics to another level of understanding. And this you can only achieve by using a very large database, with technology that displays this information virtually on the television at the very moment that it’s happening,” Palomino concludes.