The National Science and Media Museum has announced its latest summer family exhibition. Open 13 July – 30 September 2018, Action Replay looks at the technology that makes great sports broadcasts.
Broadcasters’ ambitions to make their coverage of sports the most immersive experience possible has resulted in a behind-the-scenes competition in technology and innovation that matches anything seen on the track and field.
The exhibition Action Replay at the National Science and Media Museum (13 July – 30 September 2018) features some of the game-changing innovations in technology, as well as examples of the more quirky ideas used by radio, TV and the internet to bring audiences closer to the sports they love. It includes never-exhibited-before equipment from the 1948 London Olympic Games, the camera that captured Britain’s first colour TV images, and a replica of Clare Balding’s unique Olympic shopping trolley.
Sports broadcast breakthroughs highlighted in the exhibition include the UK’s first television outside broadcast, which took place from the Epsom Derby in 1931; how the Wimbledon championships and snooker drove the introduction of colour television in the 1960s, and the way more recent developments such as ‘Ref Cams’ and the explosion of eSports continues the trend.
Action Replay also looks at some of the more unusual sports-related broadcast icons, such as Paul the psychic octopus and John Motson’s sheepskin coat, as well as exploring how sports equipment, stadiums and even rules have been adapted to accommodate audiences at home—from the pattern on the 1970s Telstar football and the colour of tennis balls, to venues fitted with finish line cameras or Skycams suspended overhead.
Elinor Groom, Curator of Television and Broadcast at the National Science and Media Museum, said:
“The UK has pioneered new technology throughout the history of sports broadcasting, and that spirit of innovation continues in global sports broadcasting today.
“When we think of our favourite moments in sports, it is almost impossible to think of them in isolation from the commentary, camera angle, slow motion or freeze frame that magnifies the action and delivers the drama. Technology has changed the way we experience the world’s biggest live events, and of course in the age of TV on-demand, online streaming and even competitive digital gaming, live sport continues to bring people together.”
Action Replay has worked with partners including BBC Sport, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, Sky Sports and the National Football Museum to show how broadcasters work ‘In the Stadium’, ‘Behind the Scenes’, and ‘Around the World’. In addition to demonstrating technology that has transmitted, recorded, rewound and replayed some of broadcast history’s most memorable events, it will encourage families to take part in interactive challenges—experiencing what it would be like to be a commentator, or a TV director replaying tricky sport techniques in slow motion, and learning about emerging sports popularised through the internet.
Featured objects that have become part of sports broadcasting history include the CPS Emitron camera used at the 1948 London Olympics, which has never been exhibited before, and the Philips PC-60 camera used for the UK’s first colour television broadcasts from the 1967 Wimbledon Championships.
Also on view are ‘cheat sheets’ used by BBC Radio Newcastle’s Sunderland football commentator Nick Barnes, the fake torch created by artist Richard DeDomenici which he carried ahead of the official pre-Olympics torch relay in 2012, and a Telestrator light pen used to draw graphics on screen as people watched. In addition, visitors can see examples of iconic sporting moments from the past nine decades alongside the televisions that screened them.
Action Replay runs at the National Science and Media Museum from 13 July – 30 September 2018 and is free to enter.
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The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire, opened in 1983, and has since become one of the most visited UK museums outside London. The museum explores the science and culture of image and sound technologies, creating special exhibitions, interactive galleries and activities for families and adults. It is home to three cinemas, including Europe’s first IMAX cinema screen and the world’s only public Cinerama screen outside the USA. Entry to the museum is free.