A moving message which reached 3.5 billion people
Panasonic Digital Broadcasting System
Olympic Stadium 3 months before the opening
Atlanta is the largest city in the South of the United States of America. The pride of the city is that from 1992, the Atlanta Braves, a major league baseball team, won the league championship for ten consecutive years. The home ground of the Atlanta Braves, Turner Field, once had star athletes such as Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson and this Olympic stadium is where they won their medals. Even now, the gigantic ASTROVISION screen, which towers the stands, inspires the athletes and encourages the heated support of the fans, livening up the games, as at the time of the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.
Construction of the IBC - the first experience as a Japanese enterprise
As an official supplier of audiovisual equipment such as ASTROVISION, Panasonic supported the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games which commemorated the centennial of the modern Olympic Games. Further, the official broadcasting equipment used was Panasonic's digital broadcasting system. In the broadcasting world, the digital era started in earnest. Broadcasting of massive projects such as the Olympic Games was the touchstone of digital broadcasting techniques, so Panasonic's responsibility was enormous.
In addition, as the first Japanese enterprise that became the contractor concerning a broadcasting system for the Olympic Games, Panasonic had to perform the grave responsibility in which they were inexperienced. Known as "The World's Largest Broadcasting Station," IBC (International Broadcast Center) consisted of 170 broadcasting stations from 75 different countries. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) put the task of official filming of the Games in the hands of AOB (Atlanta Olympic Broadcasting). AOB produced the materials which were to become the images provided to the different countries' broadcasting stations where they were edited and transmitted to the home countries.Panasonic constructed the broadcasting system for the IBC.
Koji Yamamoto, Senior Chief Engineer AVC Company, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.
In order to make possible the broadcasting of a high quality image under all conditions with, where possible, the procurement and selection of local supplies, the Panasonic staff held discussion after discussion in Atlanta two years before the Games were due to be held.
Koji Yamamoto, a senior chief engineer of AVC Company of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., says, "The weight of being responsible for the entire broadcasting system is beyond imagination. This is due to the 100% reliability demands of billions of viewers, demands for a high level image quality, and construction of a digital system the size of which the world's broadcasting media have never seen before."
Panasonic has experience in supplying and maintaining the official broadcasting equipment in past Olympic Games. However, even the Panasonic staff who had a wealth of achievements experienced a series of challenges in the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.
"To be honest, we advanced with the project by throwing our weight at problems and learned as we went on. For instance, we were involved in the construction of the Olympic stadium from the design stage. We had to consider the best way of laying the optical fiber cables which carry the digital camera images; in fact, we had to go underground during construction and confer with the local staff continuously. We had to make a perfect back up system to ensure that if one of the many cables should be cut off, the signal would still be sent."
With repeated negotiations and the realization of proposals, the relationship between the Panasonic staff and the local broadcasting staff deepened. The broadcasting staff working for the Olympic Games, who were demanded to have special know-how, were often the same line up of experienced faces. Gradually, the Panasonic staff came to hear the same remarks from the local staff. "The question that was on everyone's tongue was, "Can we manage the Opening Ceremony?" "If we can manage the Opening Ceremony, then 50 per cent of the work is done."
Involvement in the construction of the stadium from the design stage
Throughout the duration of the Games, competitions are held somewhere every day. If, by chance, the relay of an event is cut off then a video tape of the event can be used as a back up, or it can be replaced with another event. But, if it is the Opening Ceremony of the Games then the broadcast must be made only there and only at that time.
On the day of the Opening Ceremony, the opening scene of the commemorative games was clearly displayed on the gigantic ASTROVISION screen in the Olympic Stadium. For the Panasonic staff who had finished the operation check of the entire broadcasting system just a few hours earlier, it was like walking on a tightrope.
The 83,000 strong crowd in the stadium and the 3.5 billion people in 214 countries and regions all over the world watching on television, were welcoming the climax of the Ceremony. In the faint light, the white screen which consisted of boards held by 9,100 people surfaced in the stadium. What was shown was Atlanta born black leader Minister Martin Luther King giving his Lincoln Memorial speech. King's voice echoed quietly but clearly and America's most famous and historic speech was reiterated throughout the stadium.
"I have a dream"
This message, aimed at mankind's future, was suitable in marking the centennial of the Olympic Games, and it appropriately expressed the thoughts of the Panasonic staff who faced and conquered various challenges in bringing the Games to us.
We changed the corporate name from Matsushita Group to Panasonic Group on October 1, 2008.
Some reports in this page use our former name because they were written before the renaming.