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    Crystal CG: Velodrome

How's about a tour of the Olympic visuals to keep that sporting spirit alive

Posted by James Cartwright,

Now that the Olympics is all done and dusted we’re in danger of finding ourselves in an anti-climactic stupor, unsure of what to do with our spare time and hopelessly waiting for fresh results that will never come. The athletes are heading home, the Spice Girls have re-formed and performed to the delight (horror) of the world and there won’t be any more magnificent posturing from Usain Bolt for another four years. Get used to it. That’s all there is.

One way that I’ve been stemming my sorrow is by looking back at all the visuals produced over the last fortnight and marvelling at the wealth of information that greater minds than mine have condensed into striking visual representations. There’s been crazy digital animation, super-cute illustration and a veritable landslide of infographics all communicating the thrill and excitement of the games for those of us unfortunate enough not to have had tickets to any of the events.

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    Google Olympic Doodles

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    Google Olympic Doodles

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    Google Olympic Doodles

Without Google there would have been no Olympics for anyone with a job or without a TV. The real-time medal updates on the homepage allowed for constant score-checking and their wonderful daily Olympic doodles illustrated the highlight event of the day as only Google knows how, interrupted very occasionally by the celebration of Peruvian, Bolivian and Ecuadorian independence. Favourite amongst these was the synchronised swimming that showed one of Google’s O’s as carefully arranged swim team.

It wasn’t just cute drawings of athletes that kept us interested throughout the games either, there were some serious digital visuals too. Prior to every new session of events at the velodrome a specially commissioned animation was shown to excite the crowd and whet their appetites for the races to come. Velodrome was created by Crystal CG and featured two vectorised track cyclists furiously competing in an atmosphere distinctly reminiscent of Tron’s grid. Visually it might not have been the most original work out there (making track cycling look like a 1980s video game seemed a touch anachronistic choice to us) but we definitely enjoyed the Chemical Brothers’ soundtrack that accompanied it – there’s nothing like a thumping beat to get you in the mood for some breakneck competition.

If digital visuals didn’t float your boat then images of the athletes’ rippling torsos and defined limbs might have done the trick. The Guardian ran a wonderful interactive feature that gave viewers a close-up look at Olympic physiques, featuring sensually-lit films of a number of GB athletes alongside interviews about their own body image and the hard graft that goes into crafting those enviable contours. It also revealed that Mo Farah used to be a chubby child, which should ease the anxious minds of rotund adolescents the world over.

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    Guardian Data: Olympic Bodies

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    Guardian Data: Olympic Bodies

One side of the Olympics that nobody ever seems to get tired of is comparing the current competition to every other Olympics in history. If The New York Times wasn’t waxing lyrical about the drastic improvement in world record times over the past hundred years then a new feature on any number of online newspapers was going live that explored the changing shape of champion Olympians. Fortunately we all love a bit of historical curiosity, particularly when it involves marvelling at the diminutive stature of 100m runners from over a century ago. Seriously, those guys were tiny.

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    NPR: Olympic Bodies

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    NPR: Olympic Bodies

It’s impossible to talk about Olympic visuals without referencing infographics along the way. This summer, we were inundated with colourful graphs, charts and interactive videos that broke down the thousands of statistics on offer into easy bite size chunks. Once again The Guardian excelled at this graphic coverage of impenetrable numbers via their Data Blog, offering up a vast array of different analyses, from the exhaustive pre-games government spending to reconfigurations of the overall lead table according to GDP, team size and population.

There were also some subtle analytic visuals from Mother London’s Gustavo Souza, who used the Olympic rings as a visual device to represent rates of homicide, CO2 and child mortality within the five Olympic regions. Less depressing was Mass Relevance’s breakdown of Olympic coverage through Twitter.

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    Mass Relevance: How Twitter Talked About the Olympics

So there you have it, a little dose of sporting visuals to help ease you through the post-Olympic slump. If this doesn’t work then there’s really nothing more we can do for you. You’re on your own.

Jc

Posted by James Cartwright

James started out as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our two editors. He oversees Printed Pages magazine and content wise has a special interest in graphic design and illustration. He also runs our online shop Company of Parrots and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.