The camera captured that very instant
Panasonic Slow Motion Camera
Decisive instant captured by a Panasonic camera
The camera took, in slow motion, his jump which was said to be "three and a half steps" in mid air, and his figure landing.
Carl Lewis, 35 years old, was the first person in history to attempt to win four gold medals in the long jump in four consecutive Olympic Games; three and a half billion people world wide watched with bated breath his every move, his every action.
In the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, Panasonic was the first Japanese company to work as the prime contractor for the broadcasting system. It supplied various pieces of broadcasting equipment including 300 digital cameras.
Various specialized cameras were developed.
Not only is the Olympic Games a "Sports Festival," it is also a "Broadcasting Technique Festival." The "Olympic broadcast professionals" scrutinize the very many pieces of broadcasting equipment even before the Games. They are greedy to take that "instant" that comes only but once. And, in order to produce an image with more "presence," broadcasting equipment should incorporate not only cutting-edge technology but also flexible ideas.
The Panasonic team members share a principle: "The Olympic Games is the top in sports and we aim to be the top runner in technology." Under this principle, in response to the demands of people working in the field, they strove to make "a new picture." This meant the development of various specialized cameras.
Many innovative filming techniques were used. In the pole vault, shots were taken at the same height as the player's eye level. In swimming events, filming took place from the bottom of the swimming pool, or the underwater camera was moved vertically to shoot the turn scenes. Further, for the archery event, a camera was installed in the center of the target from behind to film the arrow as it flies toward the target.
For the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, the development of a slow motion camera was an important theme. The fleeting, decisive instants in sports can be filmed to produce clear slow motion pictures which can be played back at any time. When each delicate and dynamic movement of the athletes which cannot be seen with the naked eye is filmed and presented to the viewer in the form of a slow motion picture, it will provide a new way of enjoying the sport.
A slow motion camera can smoothly replay a scene that the naked eye might miss by filming more frames per second than an ordinary camera. Although Panasonic's triple-speed camera used in past Olympic Games gained a high reputation, it was expected that the full-scale adoption of digital broadcasting equipment for the Atlanta Games should achieve an even higher picture quality level.
The demonstration spent two years.
Koji Yamamoto, Senior Chief Engineer of AVC Company of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., said, 'Two years before the Olympic Games, we brought in trial pieces and ran demonstration after demonstration. As far as digital slow motion cameras were concerned, the capability to handle digital signals as well as the mechanical performance of their components such as the lens had to be remarkably increased. At the beginning, as the equipment consumed a lot of electricity, it became hot enough to burn one, so we had to put a cover over the equipment."
Panasonic's engineers developed a digital slow motion camera through trial and error attempts. They succeeded in the development of new circuitry for a camera which uses wide CCDs and optical digital data transmissions to provide high picture quality and high functionality three times faster than a conventional camera. This camera produced a non-blurred, clear slow motion image which was highly praised by the veteran camera crew and broadcasters all over the world.
On the evening of the 11th day of the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, 83,000 people in the main stadium were waiting for the last jump of Carl Lewis in the long jump final.
Koji Yamamoto, Senior Chief Engineer AVC Company, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.
Mr. Koji Yamamoto, who was in charge of the construction of Panasonic's broadcasting system, commented: "At that time, we had our camera right on the top of the main stadium. To be sure of getting a clear image of the athlete's movements, we went to the top of the ASTROVISION screen. Light beams shone down on the stadium and I saw that jump."
He barely made the qualifying event with his third jump, and now it was his third jump in the final. He gathered speed in the approach run and this jump was way over the 8 meter mark. -- 8.5 meters. His jump was far and away longer than the 29 year old Green and the 21 year old Beckford. His figure was vividly shown in slow motion on the ASTROVISION screen in the stadium and on television screens throughout the world.
After that, top-rated contestants piled failure on failure. "The last jump was Green's. Our special thumb size camera which was placed beside the jumping board captured the instant of Green's foul."
When Green's jump ended in a foul, Lewis raised both hands and started running. The crowd in the stadium gave a large ovation the likes of which have never been heard before. It was a miraculous jump by a jumper who ought to have been past his prime.
From the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games it was his fourth consecutive championship. His 9th medal tied the Olympic Record. It was the moment of Lewis winning his "last" gold medal.
A comment made by Carl Lewis in an interview after the event was very impressive for Mr. Yamamoto. For the Panasonic staff who consistently participated in the Olympic Games, his idea seemed to have something in common with theirs.
"This medal is the most wonderful. It was the most difficult and tough, but millions of people encouraged me through the medium of television. People come together from all over the world for the Olympic Games. Each individual finds his own pleasure in the Olympic Games, that is why it is so magnificent."
* These reports were written in December 2001.
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.