The thawck of an arrow hitting a target. The splash of a swimmer diving into the pool. The clap of a sprinter’s feet hitting the track. These are some of the noises you’ll hear broadcast through your TV when the London Olympics kick off next Friday. But you’re not just hearing those signature sounds of sport naturally — in fact, it takes an immense amount of movie-calibre production.
The Atlantic has a fantastically interesting look at how the magic happens. One of the main people behind that process is Dennis Baxter, a sound engineer who’s been working the games for 20 years.
For the London Olympics, Baxter will deploy 350 mixers, 600 sound technicians, and 4,000 microphones at the London Olympics. Using all the modern sound technology they can get their hands on, they’ll shape your experience to sound like a lucid dream, a movie, of the real thing.
Let’s take archery. “After hearing the coverage in Barcelona at the ’92 Olympics, there were things that were missing. The easy things were there. The thud and the impact of the target — that’s a no brainer — and a little bit of the athlete as they’re getting ready,” Baxter says.
Or what about those sounds you don’t even think about, such as the patter of a diver’s hands climbing up to the board? There are even mics hooked up to the rails to capture them. And the engineering even goes as far as separating the sound in that venues from what happens in the diving hall and what goes on underwater. And that clandestine work that produces those sounds are part of what makes the Olympics so wonderful to watch. [The Atlantic]