You’d think that working flat out to edit hours and hours’ worth of footage into one manageable home entertainment package would be a thankless task. And if you throw in the fact that the footage we’re referring to is culled from an event that entranced and enthused a whole nation, and that task becomes all the more onerous.
When the whole of the UK was watching and had their own personal highlights of the Olympics, how can you condense it in to one release and still manage to include so many diverse and varied special moments? Everyone has their own favourites, from Mo Farah to Jessica Ennis through to the exploits of the British athletes in the velodrome and beyond, how do you cram them all in and ensure you don’t leave fans disappointed? Throw in the fact it wasn’t just about British athletic achievement too (take Usain Bolt as your starting point here), as well as the high profile of both the opening and closing ceremonies and the burden of expectation becomes even heavier.
But that hasn’t weighted down BBC Worldwide, which is putting the finishing touch to its definitive document of the London 2012 Olympics ahead of its October release. Far from it; in the same way that the event seemed to galvanise the nation, BBC Worldwide has grasped the opportunity wi some relish.
“We’re really excited about it,” says BBC Worldwide’s new product development director Fiona Eastwood. “Rather than a challenge, we’re viewing it as a fantastic opportunity.
“It’s the perfect gift and the perfect way to relive the games.”
The fact that the BBC brand is behind the enterprise gives both the public and hose involved a certain feeling of confidence, as Eastwood explains. “The BBC Is fantastic at doing this kind of thing, and is very passionate about it.” As she rightly adds, the key thing is capturing the “tension, the drama, the emotion” of the games.
The box set format gives BBC Worldwide plenty of time to play with too.
“We’ve got eight hours of content from the BBC. It’s an entertaining programme,” Eastwood says, “and if anyone can get the right moments, then it’s the BBC.”
It has been working closely with Danny Boyle, the director whose vision for the opening ceremony set the tone for the days to follow. So as well as the opening and closing ceremonies, Boyle himself has put together a director’s cut of the former, and his own commentary track too. There’ll also be unseen footage.
The BBC began carefully planning its release both before and during the games. It landed the home entertainment rights through its overall broadcast agreement with the authorities, so the release was always on the cards. As the popularity of the games grew, it became apparent that BBC Worldwide was sitting on a potentially huge release. Then, as Eastwood says, it became all about “getting it out in time for Christmas”.
An announcement was made, via The Raygun’s newsletter and beyond, that the release was on its way, and then it was about driving pre-orders. “We’ve been amazed to see all the comments it’s been getting,” explains Eastwood.
Marketing began in earnest during the Olympic and Paralympic athletes’ victory parade through London, with plenty more to come.
Here, it’s a case, BBC Worldwide believes, of taking it beyond the confines of a normal sports title. “We’ve not positioned it as a sports release, it’s something that united the nation. And the BBC is brilliant at getting those enthralling national moments together.”
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