51 Sprints
The Human Race

Interactive Documentary — 2016

51 Sprints Case Film — By Random Studio

51 Sprints - The Human Race is an interactive documentary that recounts the history of one of the great events of the mod­ern Olympic Games: the 100-metre sprint. The video documentary explores the athlete as a symbolic fig­ure through five chapters: race, nation, class, sex and body. A specially developed Equalizer allows you to influence or create your own 100-metre sprint, by changing the conditions affecting each sprinter.

 The documentary

The modern Olympics is far more than just a sport event. The athlete you see is not just a sprinter; he or she is also an image, a symbol representing a country, a people or even a corporation. With a worldwide audience and mass-media coverage, the Olympics has become a global spectacle, with the power to shape the image of humankind.

The first female sprinters challenged the idea that women were only fit to be mothers and housewives. The first black athletes ran against the dominant standard of a white human being. Paralympic athletes challenged our idea of what a human body should look like.

The documentary focuses on these aspects through five different chapters. At any moment during the film, the viewer can decide to a alter the historical final they are watching by using the Equaliser. 

The Equalizer – alternative final

The Equaliser gives the viewer the opportunity to equalise the race, by taking away the specific advantage or disadvantage that each runner has, based on their nationality, sex, class, race or body. You can read more about how the equaliser works in this interview with Klaas Kuitenbrouwer.

What might be the difference between Usain Bolt from Jamaica, and a Usain Bolt from Russia or Canada? How does Nazi doping differ from Soviet doping? How much does a sponsorship deal add to the speed of the average runner?

The Equalizer – alternative result

51 Sprints shows that the Olympic Games are not only a contest for gold, silver or bronze. They are also a battle for equal opportunities, for equal representation, for being recognised, as part of the human race.

51 Sprints — The Human Race
An interactive documentary by Yuri Veerman, Random Studio and Het Nieuwe Instituut

An idea of Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Het Nieuwe Instituut
Concept developer: Yuri Veerman
Design: Random Studio & Yuri Veerman

— Film
Concept: Yuri Veerman
Art Direction, edit and production: Random Studio
Script: Yuri Veerman
Proofread and script edit: Jane Szita
Voiceover: In-Casting

— Equaliser
Concept: Random Studio
(developed in collaboration with Yuri Veerman)
Technical realisation: Random Studio
Data analysis: Mikhail S. Spektor & Dr. Gilles Dutilh (University of Basel)
Research assistant: Marc van der Valk

— Film Footage
Olympic Television Archive Bureau (OTAB)
International Paralympic Committee (IPC)
UCLA Film & Television Archive
View online
Update: unfortunately, the documentary is no longer online, due to the expensive rights of the original Olympic footage.

Magazine du webdesign (FR)
Het Nieuwe Instituut (NL)
The Frontier (EN)

Nederlands Film Festival –  Category Best Interactive, Long List (NL)
FWA – FWA site of the day (UK)
AWWWARDS – Site of the day (ES)

More info
Het Nieuwe Instituut has a web magazine that contains a lot of background information about the documentary. It is worth a read.