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Colleen Applebaugh
OSRAM SYLVANIA
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OSRAM Lighting Performs to Perfection in Salt Lake
Winning a Prestigious Supporting Role in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, OSRAM's HMI® Lamps Performed with Technological Stealth for TV Broadcasts Beamed Worldwide

The largest Olympic Winter Games in history, Feb. 8-24, in Salt Lake City, Utah, thrust OSRAM into the world arena of TV broadcast , capturing the live spectacle. Over 78 nations and more than 2,527 athletes participated, up from 68 nations and 2,303 athletes in 1998 at Nagano, Japan. Of the 78 official sporting events in 2002, Germany was the top winner, with 35 medals. The United States finished a close second with 34. Norway ranked third with 24 medals. As all the world watched, OSRAM quietly shared in a bit of the glory.

Long before the international extravaganza unfolded, OSRAM HMI metal-halide lamps competed in a year-long qualifying process. Winning in this arena, OSRAM lamped the bobsled, luge, ski jumping, ice skating and all mountain ski events that use starting huts. This prompted Jeremy Pymento, senior product manager in the Photo-Optic group, to call the prized project "icing on the cake."

Eyes of the world

Billions of TV viewers enjoyed crisp, glare-free, true-color images of athletes fired by adrenaline, all starring against the backdrop of Utah's rugged, snowy mountains. In the silver-like ice-skating rinks, glare-free HMI lamps aided both the athletes and TV cameras. Individual athletes soared to instant global celebrity status under OSRAM lamps. Janica Kostelic, a skier from Croatia, and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway, a biathlete, each won four medals. Norway's King Harald V. was quoted proclaiming Norway now had two kings!

OSRAM's Pymento, along with other members of the Photo-Optic division based in the United States and Germany, collaborated with Boston distributor High Output to gain entry into the games. After almost a year of negotiations, OSRAM and High Output were selected to light these sports venues with HMI lamps, along with fixtures provided by the German manufacturer ARRI.

"When billions of dollars are spent on TV broadcasting, the must be perfect," Pymento stresses. "Our HMI lamp gives the ideal white light in daylight or at night. In addition to their continuous spectrum and daylight color temperature of 6,000 Kelvin, HMI lamps meet the needs of high-speed filming, especially in sporting events. For the cameras, colors are seen in their truest representation, vividly, with the athletes dressed in bright reds, greens and yellows. All of that color transmitted via television is a reflection of the light source used."

24-hour vigil

The lamps were kept burning outdoors 24 hours a day. High Output's Jim Hirsch says that's the best way to keep the hot and dry. Hundreds of 200- to 4,000-watt HMI replacement lamps were required. In late December, Hirsch sent two tractor-trailer trucks to Salt Lake loaded with more than a half million dollars worth of equipment.

Hirsch says the Winter Olympics was a challenging process. "Basically, you don't want to blind the athletes coming down the luge, for example, and the glare from ice and snow could affect performance. It's got to look good for TV without adversely affecting athletes, even when it's snowing," Hirsch says. Pymento and Hirsch discussed the climatic conditions, controls and temperature variations in advance of the event, to thoroughly understand exactly how those variations affect the electronics and performance of the HMI lamps.

Scientific precision

As a product manager, Pymento explains that OSRAM HMI lamps contain a combination of metal halides in a gaseous state during operation. Keeping them burning achieves optimal performance and ensures color stability, even in adverse climatic conditions. HMI lamps typically provide up to three to four times more light than conventional tungsten halogen, while consuming 75 percent less energy for the same light output.

"When watching TV broadcasts of the 2002 Olympic athletes on the ski slopes, for example, you see the equivalent of artificial daylight and the performers actually are illuminated from all angles, eliminating shadows," Pymento explains, resting on HMI's laurels.