2012: the on-screen Olympics

On-screen animations form a major part of the presentation of London 2012, with each venue having its own programme of films created by LOCOG and Crystal CG

On-screen animations form a major part of the presentation of London 2012, with each venue having its own programme of films created by LOCOG and Crystal CG

What strikes you about the presentation of the London 2012 Olympics (I was lucky enough to visit yesterday) is its use of broadcast metaphors, with each event presented like some kind of live TV show complete with pounding music. Even the language used reflects this – at the start of yesterday morning’s athletics we were welcomed by Ben Shepherd (A TV host) to “this morning’s show”. Shepherd then went on to interview actor Patrick Stewart before handing over to the commentators who provide voice over throughout the session.

A key part of this presentation packaging is the use of moving image material on the venues’ big screens. Each venue has its own ‘producer’ who can choose from a variety of elements provided by LOCOG’s sports presentation team and Crystal CG, the Games’ official supplier of animated moving image material.

Crystal has created introductory films for each venue, using the venue’s specific colour scheme. This, for example, is the film used at the North Greenwich Arena to introduce gymnastics

While, as we posted earlier this week, this is the Velodrome film, using a Chemical Brothers track written specifically for the Games


As well as the intro films, Crystal has produced a suite of other options for the venue producers. Many of them feature a 2012 ‘avatar’ – a humanoid figure created in 3D using motion capture for the various sports. Here’s a film for the athletics stadium

And this for the archery

The avatar (designed by LOCOG and animated by Crystal) also turned up in the video for Muse’s official Olympic song


At the venues, other elements are used to whip up the crowd – here’s a shot of the beach volleyball big screen in action


While this ‘clapometer’ video urges crowds to up the volume

And this sequence was used at the start of the cycling to suggest the build up of tension

While other sequences help explain the sports and the action to come, such as this for mountain biking

Crystal have also produced fly-throughs of London for use by the BBC, NBC and other broadcasters


The Olympics-as-game-show element to the 2012 Games might not be to everyone’s tatse but the crowd I was part of yesterday certainly seemed to be enjoying it. Apparently, the levels have been turned up or down depending on the venue and sport – sedate and fairly downbeat for Wimbledon, turned up to 11 for the beach volleyball.

But there has been a lot of imagination and innovation used in the way in which the big screens are used to both inform and entertain crowds. The films also illustrate the importance of a solid visual language at the heart of everything (even if it is not to all readers’ tastes) and the sheer scale of the visual communication involved in a modern Olympiad.


Related Reading
See our blog on the look of the games here

And our interview with LOCOG head of marketing Greg Nugent here


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CR in Print
The August Olympic Special issue of Creative Review contains a series of features that explore the past and present of the Games to mark the opening of London 2012: Adrian Shaughnessy reappraises Wolff Olins’ 2012 logo, Patrick Burgoyne talks to LOCOG’s Greg Nugent about how Wolff Olins’ original brand identity has been transformed into one consistent look for 2012, Eliza Williams investigates the role of sponsorship by global brands of the Games, Mark Sinclair asks Ian McLaren what it was like working with Otl Aicher as a member of his 1972 Munich Olympics design studio, Swiss designer Markus Osterwalder shows off some of his prize Olympic items from his vast archive, and much more. Plus, Rick Poynor’s assessment of this year’s Recontres d’Arles photography festival, and Michael Evamy on the genius of Yusaku Kamekura’s emblem for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

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