... random thoughts
sat 2004-aug-28 15:17:00 pdt
So I watched some of the Olympics -- some gymnastics, some running,
some diving, maybe a bit of other stuff, I forget what all...
Of what I watched, gymnastics was definitely the most interesting.
They do some crazy incredible stuff these days. But they all get
scores of at least 9.0, and I certainly can't really tell the
difference between a 9.765 routine and a 9.812 routine, or whatever.
Sure, anyone can see whether they stick the landing or not, but
there's obviously a great deal of subtlety that you only get if you're
really immersed in the field of gymnastics...
I guess my point is just that the fact that the scores are all so
close (and so close to perfect) makes it hard to really get into the
competition side of it. Of course I still enjoy watching the
routines, basically just as performances.
Now, diving on the other hand, well, the scores actually seem to
average about 5.0, ranging from maybe 2.0 or so all the way up to the
occasional 8.5 or so. Also, maybe because they're just doing one
thing at a time, and you're told the dive difficulty, it feels more
accessible. Anyway, so the upshot is that I felt a bit more into the
competition side of it than I did with the gymnastics.
The running events that I watched weren't really themselves all that
exciting, though there were some interesting aspects to them. One
interesting thing is the "photo
finish" images they show so you can see the hundredth-of-a-second
differences between different runners. Turns out (as I learned from
article), the reason the runners look distorted in those images is
that it's not just a regular photo. Basically, each vertical slice of
pixels comes from a particular moment in time, and the x-axis of the
image corresponds to different times. So it's actually showing
everyone, not at the same moment, but each at the moment they crossed
the finish line. (And that's why there's a white background -- that's
not put in there, that's just because the camera is aimed directly on
the finish line, where the ground actually is in fact white.)
One interesting thing about generating an image like that is that if
you were to cross the finish line in the other direction, you would
appear to be going the same direction as everyone else in the
generated image. But if you walk backwards across the line (actually
walking in either direction), then you would appear to be going the
opposite direction from everyone else. Kind of cool.