Panasonic Professional Roadshow - Projectors, Plasmas and the Olympics

AVForums discovers just how much work went into staging this summer's Games

by Steve Withers Nov 21, 2012 at 11:08 AM

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    Panasonic Professional Roadshow - Projectors, Plasmas and the Olympics
    This month Panasonic Professional has been conducting a series of Visual Experience Roadshows to promote their new lineup of products for 2013.
    We saw a number of these when we attended an earlier launch at Pinewood Studios, back in June. Of particular interest that day was the new PT-RZ470 DLP projector that uses a hybrid LED/Laser light source but Panasonic Professional also showed off their latest interactive white boards and their LED Video Wall. You can find a more detailed report on the Pinewood launch and those particular products here. Of course, since that launch in June, the London Olympics has taken place and as a major sponsor Panasonic were heavily involved. In fact, one of the key messages at these roadshows is how Panasonic’s Professional products played an important role in this summer's Games, especially their projectors and plasma displays. So we went along to Mercedes Benz World at Weybridge to find out what kind of technological challenges there are in hosting a modern Olympics.

    One of the highlights of the Olympic opening ceremony was a montage of 40 years of British popular music. As the sounds reverberated around the Olympic stadium, images were projected onto a huge house erected in the middle of the arena. Whilst it might seem obvious that to achieve this effect you would use projectors, the technical hurdles involved were quite significant. First of all you need to be able to produce very large and bright images that could be seen from anywhere in the Olympic stadium as well as by the television cameras. Secondly, you have to project onto a three dimensional surface, which would require multiple images that needed to be aligned perfectly. Finally, those multiple images would need to be synchronised and corrected for any brightness differences or distortion.

    To produce images that were large enough and bright enough to illuminate the surface of the house, the Olympic organisers installed the Panasonic PT-DZ21K projector. This brand new DLP projector is capable of delivering a monstrous 20,000 lumens of brightness, which is literally enough to blind you. Despite being able to produce that magnitude of output, one obviously wasn’t enough and so the projectors were installed in groups of 2 or 3 to create the incredibly bright walls of the house. To allow for the proportions of the house, half the projectors also had to be installed vertically using a portrait mode and the screens, themselves, were controlled to prevent brightness differences and distortion. In total, 26 DZ21K projectors were carefully synchronised to create the ultimate effect on the night.

    Panasonic’s involvement didn’t stop with providing the projectors for the opening ceremony because they also provided plasma displays for the studio monitors and control room monitors for the broadcasting stations inside the OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services). The OBS facility served as the main hub for editing and distributing competition images gathered from each venue of the Olympic Games. A total of fifty-nine 65-inch plasma displayswere installed in the Master Control Room inside the International Broadcasting Centre.

    Within the venues, themselves, Panasonic’s professional large-screen plasma displays also played an important role. At the fencing, judo, volleyball, table tennis and swimming venues, Panasonic installed 103-inch plasma displays in positions that were visible from the spectator seats at the sides of the awards platforms. The wide viewing angles of these plasma displays made viewing easy for people who had difficulty seeing the awards ceremony from their seats. The use of such large screens allowed spectators who were seated further back to experience all the sporting action without missing any of the close-up details.

    Panasonic’s professional projectors were also used extensively at the venues, especially in the ExCel Centre where 10,600 lumens PT-DZ110X projectors were installed to show announcements from inside the venue, as well as images of the competition taking place in other venues. When live images were broadcast from the other competition venues, images were projected onto the floor for a simple but dramatic presentation. A stack of two PT-DS20K projectors allowed the badminton venue to be illuminated with 40,000 lumens and the rectangular image was used to project on to the entire area of the court. Projectors were also used for displaying competition scores on large screens and two PT-DZ110X projectors were installed either side of the main press stage to present live relays of the competition and other events.

    Panasonic also set up a theatre in the Olympic Park, which allowed visitors to experience live 3D images of the competition for the first time in Olympic history. In addition to the three large screens in this theatre, Panasonicalso installed sixteen 42-inch plasma displays to give as many people as possible a taste of the Olympic Games in 3D. Panasonic also worked in conjunction with a number of countries to create their own unique pavilions. The USA House, for example, included a number of LCD displays including a weatherproof one on the outdoor deck, along with a 103-inch plasma display in a special corner with sofas. Another example was Sochi Park which was designed to introduce the Russian city of Sochi, which plays host to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

    As with the opening ceremony, Panasonic’s PT-DZ21K projectors played a key role in parts of the closing ceremony. Again their inherent brightness was important, as was the ability to install them vertically in a portrait mode but this time they were also mounted on casters, allowing them to be moved by a single person. This mobility enabled then to be used in the limited space available, even right up next to the main stage. The vertically installed projectors were also mounted on flatbed trucks for one part of the show, helping to bring the Games to a spectacular close.

    Of course technology doesn’t stand still, and with the end of the London Games, Panasonic are already planning new projector and display technologies for the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Given that Panasonic were demoing 3D at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and testing 4K this year, one can only wonder what they will have in store for us in 2016?

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