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Get that camera out of my face! Why RBTV needs to relax on the sidelines

Eddie Morrissey, Sports Manager

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Nothing can compare the energy you get from running through the huge banner on a cool Friday night onto the football field. All the players are pumped up and ready to play; they’re jumping around and shouting like crazy. Then they make their way to the sidelines, where they experience one of the biggest buzz kills of all time: having a gigantic TV camera shoved into their face right before the opening kickoff.

Football is a sport that requires a great amount of focus and concentration, and it’s infuriating when you’re trying to discus tactics with one of the coaches or cheering on your teammates while some guy is pressing a video camera as close as he can legally get to your face without getting charged for harassment.    

“They come right up into your face and distract you from the game,”said junior football player Zach Sollinger. “They should stay off the field and stand where they belong: with the cheerleaders.”

RBTV has had a fair amount of success at various competitions. In the last eight years, RBTV has won at least one 1st place trophy for a TV program at the Hometown USA Video Festival. In the 2007 festival, they won a total of seven 1st place trophies. Needless to say, we have a talented TV station.

“If you’ve ever watched a college or NFL game on TV, you’ll notice that they use sideline cameras,” said TV production teacher Gary Prokes. “In order to completely cover the game, it’s necessary to have cameramen on the sidelines.”

However, I just can’t stand watching a football game when the only sound coming out of my TV is the announcers. I don’t know much about video cameras, but I do know that the cameras broadcasting the RB football games cannot pick up any sound whatsoever. You can’t hear the crowd shouting, the cheerleaders cheering. You can’t even hear the referee blow his whistle. And when I see a close up (and I mean an extreme close up) of a player on the sidelines, I see his lips moving, but there is hardly any sound.

It is reasonable for the station to want to cover the football game as well as they possibly can, but you seldom see professional cameramen doing close ups of the players to the extent that the RBTV cameramen do. It doesn’t do RBTV justice and it shatters the players’ concentration. It would be more desirable for the cameramen to stand apart from the players and take some sideline shots, but do it in a manner that won’t make the entire team feel like they’re being stalked.

It’s not like player close-ups are a vital part in successfully covering RB football games. Sideline cameras are meant to add a bit of interest for the viewer and impress the TV audience with the numerous camera views. Unfortunately, RBTV sideline cameras accomplish neither of those goals.

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Get that camera out of my face! Why RBTV needs to relax on the sidelines”

  1. Lorenzo P Cordova on October 26th, 2009 1:13 pm

    Mr. Morrissey,

    Congratulations on reaching the position of Sports Editor. It truly suits you.

    I feel this article has been a long time coming. In my many years at RBTV as a producer (in my high school years) and as a production assistant (in my post high school years), I have seen football players on the sidelines viciously curse at the cameramen and tell them to get out of their way. These heated actions are sometimes recorded.

    I have been the sideline camera operator for football games, and I have, even, once, directed a football game. As a camera operator, I was told to get close-up shots of the players, and as a director, I told my camera operator to get close-up shots of the players. Without the close-ups, the broadcast of the game would just be wide shots from the cameras in the press box.

    Also, the sideline camera operator also gets shots of cheerleaders, sideline spectators, the homecoming court, administrators and faculty members on the track beside the field, and even spectators in the bleachers. The sideline camera’s purpose is to give the viewers at home a sense of the atmosphere at that game. It shows the intensity of the players and coaches, the dedication of the fans, and the skill of the cheerleaders.

    One of the first things AV/TV Production Supervisor Gary Prokes taught me and my fellow classmates in Introduction to Television Production Level I is that “television is a close-up medium.” That means that in television, the camera needs to be close to the action in order for it to look great when broadcast. If the sideline camera operator stood far away from the coaches and players, the shots would look bland.

    Mr. Prokes’ comment in this article is right on. The game cannot be completely covered with one or two cameras in a press box.

    As for sound besides the announcers, it has been discussed at production meetings. The reason RBTV doesn’t turn on the microphones mounted on the cameras is because the sound would not be of good quality when broadcast. Also, with all the cursing and intense comments from coaches and players at huddles, the sound would require extensive editing. That doesn’t mean RBTV won’t find a way to do it in the future. Your point there is well-made, Mr. Morrissey.

    This article is extremely insightful.

    Lorenzo P. Cordova,
    Former Editor-in-Chief, 2006-2008
    Former RBTV Senior Producer, 2007-2008

    Sent from my iPod

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  2. Roone Arledge on October 27th, 2009 8:45 am

    Eddie,
    The media, newspapers included, have created an environment where anything goes. The sidelines, the playing field, the locker room, your personal life, NONE of these are considered sacred ground. Read your own newspaper, read your Dad’s column, watch news and sports tv. Where does anybody draw the line anymore?

    Do not like a camera in your face? I am sure that others do not like a pen and pad in theirs. Want more sound? Isn’t that more of an intrusion. Although you are right that RBTV could benefit from more ambient sound, score, down and distance graphics, player name graphics, stat graphics, replays, a stat guy in the booth, etc. Not that Jason Flam and Tim Brasic don’t do a nice job with the games. Hey Prokes, this 2009, not 1957.

    RBTV has every right to ‘get in your face’ because you believe you have every right to get in theirs! Let’s keep it UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL………….

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Get that camera out of my face! Why RBTV needs to relax on the sidelines