Panasonic gears up for Sydney

For the third Olympics in a row, Panasonic is serving as the prime contractor to the Olympics' host broadcaster. Sydney Olympic Broadcasting Organization (SOBO) has selected Panasonic's DVCPRO50, 4:2:2 component digital tape format as the "official video format" for the Sydney Games and will be relying on more than 1,000 DVCPRO50 recorders and 300 Panasonic cameras to capture the action. As the official "broadcast systems integrator" for the Games, Panasonic will also be designing and installing turnkey broadcast systems for the International Broadcast Center (IBC), the 110,000-seat Sydney Stadium and the 20,000-seat Sydney Super Dome.

The total value of the equipment supplied by Panasonic to SOBO and the world's broadcasters is roughly $80 million, according to Yuji Yata, chief of Panasonic's Sydney Olympic office. Panasonic has had a dedicated systems-integration and support team in place in Sydney since summer 1998. Currently, 50 people are working on the project, including 30 system engineers. During the games, Panasonic will provide another 80 engineers for around-the-clock support.

Panasonic will supply more than 1,000 DVCPRO 4:2:2 tape decks, including AJ-D960 slow-motion studio VTRs, AJ-D950 studio recorders, AJ-D940 slow-motion players, half-rack-size AJ-D95 studio VTRs and AJ-LT95 laptop editors. SOBO will also use more than 300 Panasonic cameras-including AJ-D910WA EFP camcorders, AQ-235W studio cameras and AQ-23WU hand-held units-and more than 4,000 monitors. They will all be used to acquire more than 3,200 hours of live footage at the Games.

Panasonic's systems-integration work for SOBO is on a similarly massive scale. Sydney Stadium has five control rooms; the Super Dome, four. The master-control room inside the IBC will use 400 monitors. And Panasonic has installed more than 1 million meters of cable at the IBC alone.

According to Yata, a major difference between Sydney and Atlanta-site of the previous summer Games-is that the control rooms are separate and much farther away from the main stadium facilities where track-and-field and gymnastics events take place. Although control rooms were an integral part of those facilities in Atlanta, the Sydney control rooms are 1,000 meters away from the action, requiring longer cable runs with optical conversion. Cable-termination rooms had to be created in the Stadium and Super Dome to allow cables to run to these venues without going straight to the field of play.-G.D.