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Olympic Secrets, by Alessandro Alvim

Behind the scenes of one of the most impressive infographics coverage of Rio 2016

September 7, 2016

[This is a guest post by Alessandro Alvim*, about the series of videos and infographics developed at O Globo newspaper for the coverage of the Rio 2016 Olympics]



The “Olympic Secrets” began in April 2015, at a meeting about the future Olympic coverage with Chico Amaral, multimedia executive, and Roberto Maltchik, new video editor brought in by Chico precisely for journalistic coordination of the Rio Games, where we discussed what could be done differently from previous events. I proposed the use of videos and videographics, but why?

Well, knowing that we could not record video inside the Olympic venues due to copyright issues, I would like to get to the Games with that content ready for my readers. Maltchik had already suggested that he would like to tackle the secret of every sport, something fundamental and that nobody ever sees, and so, we agreed on format and content, but with a condition imposed by Chico at the start of work: it would have to be a series that covered 28 sports, no more and no less.

Me and Maltchik started looking for the COB (Brazilian Olympic Committee), the confederations, technical committees and so on, to kick-off the interview process with athletes, coaches and directors-technicians. From April to August we work with Louise Tamiasi (videographism), and Alexandre Cassiano and Marco Antonio Rezende (photo / video) in the format that we decided should be given to the project.

First, we recorded two pilots, but it was clear that they lacked that tension – the blood in the eyes – that this type of competition normally requires from the athletes. We came to the conclusion that interviewing athletes in advance to accomplish the filming would not give us the necessary charm. In the meantime, I had very heated, but necessary, discussions with the Art Editor Rubens Paiva, about which style should we give the animations.

From that point forward, we aligned our recordings with the test-events that begun in Rio in August 2015. For those recordings came four more photographers: Daniel Marenco, Guito Moreto, Marcelo Carnaval and Antonio Scorza, and Alexandre Cassiano and Marco Antonio Rezende. At that time, me and Maltchik had already 25 of the 28 videos with the leads closed, and 15 fully researched, including all the interviews.

The recordings were made intensively in a couple of weeks, and then we always had a two week break, so we align our work within this time frame: the photographer was going to shoot knowing the “secret” to be highlighted; with the video material in hand I was editing, and discussing animations with Louise; then the journalistic format was reviewed by Maltchick that made the necessary changes to the audio text. After that, I closed the script, with pauses, timelines, animations inserts, all the necessary information to Louise begin assembling the video and make the animations. In order for her to do so, we had to drawn every frame of the animations by hand – some animations had over 120 drawings -, along task for which I had the help from Vinícius Machado and Igor Machado.

While Louise was assembling one video, another was being shot, and another was being edited by me, and when we didn’t have recordings, me and Maltchik continued researching for the ones still missing. All in all, a gear that worked until May 2016, when the test events finished.

Launching the project was not an easy task, because if we publishes all in once, we’d most likely lose web accesses. So we agreed we should publish the videos one by one, having as a starting date the milestone of one hundred days until the Games, April 27, 2016. For each video posted on the site, we also published a print version for the newspaper, done by me and infographic designer Renato Carvalho.

It was also decided that, as of the first video, we should have another released every Tuesday and every Thursday, and these videos would feed a special online feature. At this stage of the project, I worked with Isabella Marques, web designer, on the design of that digitral environment. Isabella proposed an “accumulative calendar” format that after drawn, came into the hands of developers Anderson Fields and Thais Lion, to give the output in HTML and reviewed the usability.

From April 27 to August, 2, 2016, after one year and four months of work, we published 28 videos on the web, alongside 28 infographics, in print. What can I say? I was a very intensive, multidisciplinary, journalistic work – just like the infographics we love should be.



*Alessandro Alvim is an award-winning visual journalist based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. You can see more of his work and learn more about him at his Visualoop profile.

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.