Sydney 2000

Behind the Scenes at the Olympic Games

Behind the Scenes at the Olympic Games Digital Broadcasting System:
Construction of a Fully-Digital Broadcasting System for the IBC, the World’s Largest Broadcasting Station

Photo: Cameraperson using a camera recorder at the swimming venue of the Olympic Games Sydney 2000

The exciting, high-quality sports footage of the Olympic Games materialized at the International Broadcast Centre (IBC), located at the edge of the Olympic Park where daily competition took place. Located here were the Sydney Olympic Broadcasting Organisation (SOBO), the designated host broadcasting service tasked to produce the official video of the Olympic Games Sydney 2000, as well as broadcasters around the world processing the official video to transmit to their home countries. Panasonic was contracted to build the most important aspect, a broadcasting system for the duration of the Games. This was to become the backbone of the IBC, the world's largest broadcasting station.

24-hour Uninterrupted Support Coverage

At the IBC, in addition to the staff of SOBO, the host broadcasting company, some 12,000 employees represented broadcasters from around the globe. International broadcasters produced and transmitted television programs in accordance with the time zone of their home country. All functions at the IBC operated around the clock with no breaks. Koji Yamamoto, Senior Chief Engineer of Panasonic. said, “The IBC is in operation day and night. Of course, the enormous broadcasting equipment was working overtime through the duration of the Games, so our maintenance staff provided 24-hour support in three shifts per day. We had to monitor the SOBO broadcasting equipment at the IBC and various stadiums, as well as the Panasonic equipment used by international broadcasters. Somehow we managed to get through the Games with a team of about 100.”

Photo: Live images of the competitions being shown on displays installed at the booth of the International Broadcast Center (IBC) for the Olympic Games Sydney 2000

Panasonic's “DVC-PRO50” digital VTR was adopted as the official broadcasting equipment of the Olympic Games Sydney 2000. The equipment allowed for high-resolution digital image data to be recorded on a narrow strip of tape only 1/4 inches wide. This format was praised highly at the Games.
Yamamoto commented, “The DVC-PRO50 camcorder is lightweight and compact, and enables highly mobile filming. From the air, from a boat at sea, from a motor bike - we used it from innovative camera angles to produce images with a real sense of presence.”

Photo: Staff working with multiple monitors in the editing room at the International Broadcast Center (IBC) for the Olympic Games Sydney 2000

Rapid Video Production with the DVC-PRO50

At the Panasonic Support Center within the IBC, Panasonic engineers oversaw various unanticipated problems. At the same time, they received lots of praise from international broadcasting staff. The DVC-PRO5O enabled everything from filming, editing, processing, distribution to international broadcasting stations, and program transmission, all in rapidly-transmittable digital data. We received positive feedback from those who tried out the fully-digital program production such as, “[the digital VTR] allows for logical operations,” “the image quality does not degrade at all,” “it changed our production style for the better.”
The official video footage of the Olympic Games Sydney 2000 totaled 3,500 hours. The final scene featured a grand fireworks display that enveloped the Sydney Harbour Bridge in radiance. As the sparkling light projected onto the countless monitors at the IBC, the staff and teams took a moment to reflect on the unforgettable memories and challenges encountered during the Games.

Photo: Optical cables used for digital image data transmission