Olympic Broadcasting Services

Most Londoners were dreading the Olympics.  We had VIP-only ‘Games Lanes’ holding up road traffic, bus routes diverted, and Boris Johnson reminding us to “please avoid London Bridge/Victoria/Green Park/any other useful interchange stations” we usually frequent during our commutes.  Luckily I managed to escape the city for the majority of the Games, as I headed up to Glasgow to work as an audio assistant on some of the Olympic football.

I was employed by OBS, who record all of the material for every sport at the Games, then sell the material to individual rights holders from each country.  This meant that the setup and execution of these matches were quite different from how football is usually broadcast.  Firstly, we had about twice the number of mics.  My first two days were spent harnessed up on the roof of Hampden Park, rigging cables and suspending four hanging mics over the seats.  Nice view from up there!

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We were told to put mics absolutely everywhere, but after we had FIFA then told us to take quite a few of them down again – I learned quite a bit about broadcast politics on this job!  Secondly, we didn’t touch the commentary, as this was the remit of the rights holders.  And thirdly, four of the sound crew (including me) were given handheld omni mics and a quarter of the side of the pitch to follow the play.

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I loved it – even during the fairly uninteresting matches, it was still more fun than any other job I’ve had.  The crew were great – three guys from BBC Scotland and three from SIS Live.  They really took an interest in all of the trainees and gave us a lot of great advice.  I think they enjoyed having youngsters who were genuinely interested in the job, and we enjoyed having bosses that were genuinely interested in teaching us.

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