Getty Images Delivers Winter Olympic Photos in Record Speeds

Getty Images along with AP, AFP, Reuters, and EPA wire agencies have set up state-of-the-art fiber optic networks to deliver Olympic images almost instantaneously. Getty can deliver photographs from the Winter Olympics in Sochi directly to publications within 180 seconds thanks to 20 kilometers of cable and a 100Mbps network. The process of preparing an image for delivery in record speed involves a team of Photoshop experts, captioning specialists, and editors.

The photographer sends the images with basic metadata embedded in the photo to three editors who select the best images. Next, the images are sent to Photoshop experts who crop images, color correct, adjust saturation and contrast to create the best composition possible. Lastly, the caption team receives the finished photos, identifies names, and posts the images to the Getty website and feeds.

Stuart Hannagan, VP of editorial at Getty Images, said the events that occur across the top of the mountain pose the biggest problems for photographers. Although professional SLRs and lenses are usually able to function in extreme temperatures, photographers have a back up plan including wet weather hoods and brackets that allow them to work in freezing snow and pouring rain.

Getty uses integrated technologies including robotic cameras at most large-scale sporting events such as the Summer Olympics, but discovered the use of robotics at Sochi is limited by the facilities, reports CNET.

“It’s been a little more difficult than a Summer Games because the stadiums here are more like domes, there’s nothing up in the roof to hang [the robotics] from,” Hannagan said. “It’s been a bit of a challenge from that sort of view, so what we’ve reverted to more than robotics is remote cameras.”

Getty is also exploring the use of 360-degree panoramic photography. “While most of the team can make these images, Hannagan emphasizes that it is a real art form and is not something that the company wants to have as just an afterthought,” notes the article. And while many companies are increasingly using drones and octocopters, that will not be the case in Sochi (at least for the Getty team).

“The problem with the Winter Olympics is that it’s such a challenging event. We didn’t want to try and get to the point where we were doing too much,” Hannagan stated.