When high-definition television came along, it revolutionized the game. Watching sports got way better all over the world for literally millions, if not billions, of viewers. For fans of American football: think, for instance, of Mario Manningham's clutch 38-yard catch that sparked the New York Giants' winning drive in Super Bowl XLVI, and the sideline tap-dance that was part of it. High-def made it all so real.
Now comes super high-vision technology.
Watching SHV is what is like when you made that jump a few years back from your standard TV set to high-def, only way better. After seeing SHV, even high-def feels like watching Super Bowl clips from the 1970s or '80s.
You can hardly believe the level of detail that all of a sudden snaps into crystal-clear focus. It's that good. That amazing.
In a word, SHV is a game-changer.
And it's one the Olympic world has already begun to embrace.
In London, the Olympic Broadcasting Services helped the Japanese broadcaster NHK -- and the BBC -- put together substantial coverage, including the opening ceremony and the men's 100-meter final.
Developers at NHK recently showed off the technology to a small group of journalists. It was all part of the International Olympic Committee evaluation commission's assessment of Tokyo's 2020 Summer Games bid.
Of course the commission saw, too, what the technology could do. The members got to see some of the imagery -- "tape" seems such an outmoded word -- from the ceremony and Bolt's 9.63-second victory.
One of the highlights of the ceremony, of course, was when the five Olympic rings were moved into place atop Olympic Stadium. In SHV, the sparks from the molten medal appeared to literally leap off the screen. The sound from the 22.2-channel surround-sound speakers -- again, 22.2-channels -- provides a ridiculously immersive experience.
Bolt's victory was noteworthy not just because, as he proclaimed time and again, it set him toward becoming a "legend." He would finish that off later in the Games by winning the 200 meters and then the Jamaican team would win the 4x100 relay in world-record time. Before the start of the 100, 34-year-old Ashley Gill-Webb, who somehow made his way into the stadium and into the seats near the start line without a ticket, threw a bottle at Bolt, hoping to disrupt him.
Gill-Webb, who suffered from bipolar disorder and was having a "manic episode," was found guilty in January in a British court of public disorder.
In SHV, you can see not only that Gill-Webb is wearing a blue-sleeved shirt in the middle of the crowd but that he is preparing to throw the bottle.
Too, that it's a green bottle and has a long neck.
That the bottle bounces in the middle of the track behind the runners.
That, as the field makes its way toward the finish line toward the cameras, American Ryan Bailey, in Lane 8, steps across Bolt's lane line, in Lane 7. There was no protest filed; indeed, there was no violation in this instance, as there would be in, say, a 200-meter race, because technically Bailey was running farther by stepping into Bolt's lane.
The level of granular detail makes it so evident, however, that Bailey steps across the line -- a fascinating aspect to add to the historic context of the race.
This kind of forensic clarity, moreover, would be invaluable in helping to analyze races such as the 110-meter hurdles final at the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea, in which Cuba's Dayron Robles crossed the line first, only to be disqualified after tangling with China's Liu Xiang after the ninth hurdle between Lanes 5 and 6; Liu was declared the winner.
Another example: the now-infamous third-place tie at last summer's U.S. Trials between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh in the women's 100-meter dash.
Would SHV have definitively resolved the tie? No one can say.
Would it provide more evidence? For sure.
Where 3D has tried -- and is still trying -- to make its way, SHV seems poised to be the next advance in broadcasting technology.
Even if it's maybe years away from being in your living room, maybe five or so if you live in Japan or South Korea, and though if you were an actor or actress of a certain age it might keep you awake at nights with the level of potentially frightening stuff it would enable audiences to see about you, it also just might mean -- eventually -- the end of bad refereeing.
It's that crystal clear.
At the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, OBS will again cover the opening ceremonies; this time the showcase sport will be figure skating.
NHK will be flying the recordings to Tokyo for later review. Yuna Kim dominated this week's world figure skating championships. In SHV, she figures to be, in a word, spectacular.