Chinese Whispers Rule The Skies

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 by Definition Magazine

Full resolution HDTVs for US $1,000 seemed to be one of those distant predictions and too good to be true. In 2003 we hoped that the Chinese Olympics would  be the driving force for retail sales to be driven by the combination of sparkling sports coverage for a irresistible price

While the price of sets has fallen it hasn’t managed to get to US $1k, in the US $1500 is typical while in Europe £1k is the norm for cheaper sets. While the cost of living has increased dramatically for fuel and energy costs, the price of large screens have continued to fall.

For those who haven’t taken the plunge the Olympics is an appealing introduction to viewing large screen HD images in the home. Although the Athens Olympics had a good deal of HD coverage the Beijing Olympics will be the first to create an all HD coverage.

A colourful albeit smoggy backdrop, from a country where there has been little HD coverage is a milestone. It has been a hard slog for those tasked with pulling the games together as the Chinese strived to provide technical solutions using  local resources.

Their heart is in the right place.

The same can’t be said for the US government that banned the use of  the majority of stabilised camera systems. These are the systems used on helicopters, boats and tracking systems to stabilise the picture. Some components have earned restricted export status as in theory they could be used in weapons.

It is pretty obvious, in the industry, that under such a glaring spotlight a half a million dollar camera system was not going to be pulled apart by the local spooks while crews slept. High quality coverage of the games is far more important to the Chinese Government than a camera component! Perhaps this wasn’t lost on the US government as they continued to refuse import of at least 15 stabilised systems that create the ‘hero’ or ‘money shots’, for instance the stunning aerials of the amazing architecture of the venues for instance.

Perhaps this would put China in too favourable a light?

It was only the persistence of a UK company who face a six figure legal bill that backed the US government into a corner. At one point fearing camera systems with similar performance, but without restricted components, were to be used, the US State Department proclaimed that importing such systems of similar performance would be breaking the ‘Spirit of the law’ and they would take legal action!

What Humbug! What about the Spirit of the Games?


Michael Brennan

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