There are few events as epic in scale and international excitement as the Olympic Games. Every four years stars of track and field or slopes and ice, compete to achieve legendary status.
Back home, countries watch with baited breath as their favorite sons and daughters strive on the world stage.
Grainy, black and white signals marked the first attempts to broadcast the games to a wider audience. The 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, were the first to utilize television to broadcast the events to audiences worldwide.
As the popularity of the television grew, so too did broadcast coverage of the games. Families crowded around massive console TVs with a tiny glowing screen and watched the evolution of the Olympics from an interesting quadrennial sports competition into a media phenomenon. From satellite uplinks to the advent of full color, Olympic broadcasts on ABC and NBC throughout the 70’s and 80’s became tremendous must-watch events.
Technology has aided in broadcasting entire competitions live, which has only added to the excitement of the events. Coverage that was once a few dozen hours bloomed to nearly 200 hours. Later, the move to high-definition brought a new level of realism to the viewing audience. With it came surround sound, and as a result, a more immersive experience into the world of athletics.
It wasn’t until the 2008 Beijing Olympics that the games were broadcast entirely in HD. This was also the year Panasonic and LG launched THX Certified Plasma Displays. The world watched in HD wonder as thousands of Chinese drummers pounded out in perfect rhythm the beat of the opening ceremonies.
But something else happened in Beijing – a trial of a new dimension in television: 3D. What started as test clips of the latest technology, and further advanced at the Vancouver Winter Games, will hit full force at this summer’s Olympics in London. NBC plans on producing 242 hours of 3D coverage, while the BBC promises British home audiences the opening and closing ceremonies, the 100m final and daily highlights in 3D.
In 2012 the Olympics will embrace yet another new cutting edge technology; certain events will be recorded in a new Ultra HD resolution: 7,680×4,320.
The broadcasters of the Olympics have always had a common goal: to bring viewers into the magic and excitement of the games, with the latest technologies. From black and white to color, mono to stereo, standard definition to HD, 2D to 3D and now Ultra HD and beyond, the Olympics have long been a test bed of technological innovation.
Similarly, THX believes in bringing the content to the viewer without letting technology get in the way. That’s how we approach everything we do at THX. From certifying movie theaters and consumer electronics, to developing new technologies that ensure an accurate reproduction of content, we want the viewer to experience content exactly as its creator intended – and with the highest level of realism possible. The roar of the crowd, the sun on the grass, the bead of sweat on a runner’s face, it’s all bringing you as close to being there.
Products proudly wearing the THX badge of Certification represent the best in audio video equipment. They are carefully engineered and rigorously tested to insure that their owners experience audio and video content just as it was recorded. For nearly 30 years THX has developed certification programs and technologies that work towards achieving this goal. In 2009 THX announced its 3D Display Certification program, ensuring that for the 2012 games, audiences worldwide would have the opportunity to view the event with astonishing realism. And with the developments of 4K resolution and expanded color gamut, we’re already looking ahead to the products that will bring the 2016 Olympics into our homes.
We’d like to wish all the athletes of the 2012 Olympic Games the best of luck, and look forward to enjoying the show.