WINDSOR, England - Every strain, every grimace, every teardrop will be caught on camera like never before at Dorney Lake at the London Olympics.
Television viewers across the globe will see rowing and canoe sprint in a new light this summer thanks to the installation of a high-tech camera, hung from a three-cable system above the course, that will follow races from start to finish.
"This is the longest cable-cam ever designed on planet earth," said Stefan Boisjoly, the broadcast venue manager at Dorney Lake. "Television is emotion. We want to show the world things that even the spectators cannot see."
The system is strung between two 92-meter-high towers located at each end of the course, covering a total distance of 2,500 metres.
As the camera sets off to follow the crews, the cable gradually drops in height until halfway down the 2,000-meter stretch of water where it will be suspended just eight meters above the competitors, isolating their faces.
There truly is nowhere to hide.
"I hope that we see some emotions, hardworking faces during the races," said Oliver Schneyder, who will control the images being shot from the camera to television screens all over the world.
It is sure to add a new dimension to coverage of the rowing, which takes place from July 28-Aug. 4, and the canoeing, which goes from Aug. 6-11.
Rowers and coaches have already given the technology a huge thumbs-up.
"That's so awesome," American quadruple-sculler Natalie Dell said.
David Tanner, performance director of British Rowing, went ever further.
"The buzz of the overhead-wire camera is going to put rowing into a completely different realm for showing our sport," he said. "Well done for the people who conceived that and put it up."
The Camcat system, developed by an Austria-based company, was first used to help film a documentary on St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna but soon began to be used more and more in sport.
Schneyder said the system has been used to film ski-jumping, Formula One and also at four previous Olympics, including Salt Lake City, Athens, Beijing and Vancouver.
The camera can rotate 360 degrees, zoom in and out, and move up and down.
"To us, rowing is one of the most magnificent sports and the fact the lake is so long was a challenge," said Boisjoly, who is from Canada. "We always wanted to be able to show the full length of the lake. You can do it with a helicopter, you can do it with a blimp but our goal is to have something that is more flexible, that we can use race after race after race.
"The images coming out of there are just unreal. It is so beautiful."
Once the camera comes to a stop at the tower nearest the finish line, it will zip back to the start line in time for the next race at a speed of 70 kilometres per hour (43.5 miles per hour).
And don't worry — it can cope if the inclement weather returns to Britain. Three different counterweight systems keep the camera still in winds up to 40 kph (25 mph).
"The 30,000 spectators here will have a very direct, inspirational experience," Boisjoly said, "but we want the viewers around the world to have a special kind of experience, too."