London 2012 – The First Digital Games

Yesterday morning, I headed down town to City Hall to hear about how media coverage for the 2012 games this year had been delivered. I wanted to find out if there were any pearls of wisdom that a small-fry like myself could glean: perhaps discover a new niche to make my service more unique.

London Business Network were holding the London 2012 sector conference review on technology, media and telecommunication. (TMT) I’d never been to city hall before and I was fascinated by the architecture within. Floors are connected by a large spiral walkway similar to the Guggenheim and it reminded me a lot of Gatwick Airport funnily enough.

After a brief networking opportunity (I always find these hard), we gathered in the auditorium.  A succinct intro by MC Faizul Ali of Deloitte MCS Ltd, introduced Tim Plyming, project executive for Digital Live Sites and Super Hi Vision for BBC 2012. Tim gave a fascinating insight into the first digital games ever. Thanks to super fast broadband, this is the first Olympics which has seen full digital coverage of all the events: a feat never achieved before.

Hampton Court Way approaching Hampton Wick roundabout, Team GB up front including Bradley Wiggins.

The BBC realised that with the cessation of analogue services, this presented the perfect opportunity to commit to bring every minute of the event to viewers. Using traditional methods only 300 hours of blue ribbon events were achievable at the Sydney games. Since 1984, the BBC has partnered with Japanese company NHK who supply cameras capable of 16 times the quality of HD video. Super-fast broadband has facilitated the transmission and screening of this live experience to 6 projectors around the world and cinema screenings in London, Glasgow, Bradford, Washington, Tokyo and Fukushima. This is impossible to send via satellite. (Transmission rate is 0.5 gigabites a second.) Tim pointed out that we had now reached the maximum resolution the human eye can see. The experience feels like you’re actually there. (Currently you can visit BBC Broadcasting House near Oxford Circus for a demo.)

“Super Saturday” sees 24 HD channels with particular events chaptered using video data stats which adds value to the viewer’s experience a the heart of the BBC’s Offer. This would enable a page to be built for every sport, athlete or country and the ability to jump to any one particular moment, providing a huge legacy service to use in the future.

How would TMT be used differently in years to come?

Tim explained that chapterisation would allow us to view exactly how we want it. The UK is the most connected country in Europe, whether by mobile, tablet or p.c. There is evidence that people are often using two technologies at once (particularly our kids), and there is no evidence that shows failure to absorb information. The biggest challenge is to make content exciting which means using creative people to manage that info in an interesting and innovative way. This will lead to localised personal experience where access becomes more important over ownership.

( This scared me silly for obvious reasons!)

So where does still photography fit in? Unfortunately, I’m none the wiser but it did point to more collaboration between creatives and more SHARING of intellectual property. Technology is moving so fast that as a sole trader, remaining at the cutting edge will be a real struggle. One participant pointed out that her up and coming company based at Tech City (the area near Hoxton and Old Street), had been excluded from any 2012 opportunities due to impossibly stringent criteria. I had heard by attending previous seminars that small businesses would be given a fair crack at the whip, but sadly it appears not.

Dear oh dear….Big business wins again. I’ll just have to get fitter and leaner!

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