Eye Test for the TV Coverage

Nestor suggested that I do a fan post on this, so here goes. This is easy for anyone to do, and easier if there is no sound to distract you. Just watch what you see on the screen, and remember that ever pixel you see is specifically called for by the director. All the graphics are prepared by the crew and called for by the director. There is a lot of discussion in the truck - "I NEED A LOWER THIRD OF HUNDLEY, G&%#$ IT. Oh, F&^% it. Too late now." Stuff like that. A good crew will have a ton of graphics ready for any potential thing that comes up, and they are always creating new ones on the run. The crappy graphics in our game is what generated this rant. Anyhow, here's my Eye Test for the TV production, which started as a comment in IE Angel's Eye Test post on the game.

Agree with the team grades, totally disagree with the TV grade.

IE, you mentioned how good it was to get to listen to Verne Lundquist, and I agree that he is a reasonable announcer. In fact, I would choose to listen to him IF HE WERE ALONE IN THE BOOTH. (Sorry for the shouting, but (a) I don’t know how to do bold face type, and (b) I hope the networks might read this and I don’t want them to miss my opinion on this subject.) Two in the booth made it impossible for me to listen to a televised game, because the color analysts almost always are horrible in one way or another. I can’t help hearing what they say, and most games are the oral equivalent of grievous apostrophe violations.

My point is that I think your judgment as to the quality of the telecast was colored by your watching the game and actually enjoying the announcers. (I recognize the fact that some people actually enjoy announcers. That is just another thing on a very long list of things I don’t understand.) The telecast was abysmal from a technical standpoint, especially if the sound was off. I know about these things a little, having worked in production trucks a little. Here’s my Eye Test.

1) Were the graphics any good?

This almost always associated with item 2, and in any event the answer to both is a resounding No. There may have been times that the down and distance were shown on the screen, but that was rare. There were many times that the first down line and line of scrimmage graphics failed, but I can do without that if the down and distance are marked. Also, there were only a few graphics about the players. Example: The tremendous Zumwalt hit on their QB would have been a perfect time to put up a head shot of Zumwalt with some nice numbers, but that didn’t happen. There were a couple of graphics about what to expect or what either team had to do to win, but those are generally insipid, and could be done by the most junior broadcast assistant as soon as the teams were announced. (I write this on Thursday, before the Oklahoma Alabama game. As an experiment, turn the sound off for about five minutes (five real minutes versus five football minutes), and just watch. Every graphic you see on the screen is called by the director except for the "graphics box" that stays up all the time, and most of the stuff that gets inserted into the box. There wasn’t much other than the box, and there wasn’t much in the box, which leads into Item 2. Anyhow, the grade for item 1 has to be an F.

2) Was the production crew prepared for the broadcast?

No. Remember that the production crew is much much more than the two guys in the booth and the useless sideline reporter. (More on the sideline reporter later.) Preparation should have started when the teams were announced. There could have (and should have) been graphics ready for basically everyone, e.g., after a catch by someone, they could throw that guy’s face and his numbers on the screen, but I don’t remember seeing much of that (except for Hundley). Most sports lend themselves to numbers and comparisons of numbers (I think baseball more than football), and there was much, much more that could have been done that the network failed to do. That’s a job that the broadcast assistant does (or the Assistant Director if it’s a small crew.) No one did that here, which would not be surprising if this were a local high school football game. But this was CBS, for crying out loud. It’s inconceivable that a big time network was so unprepared.

Re: the sideline reporter. I’m sure the networks have determined that most of the audience for college football are young males, and I’m sure that’s the reason why almost all of the sideline reporters are attractive (or super-attractive) young women. Can’t the network executives give the audience even a little credit for having their collective hormones under control? There is zero need for a sideline reporter, either of the uber-hot variety or anything else. Again, drawing on my own experience, a sideline reporter is often worth having, but it’s only necessary for that person to relay data to the booth through the truck. I have worked Rays games with my duty station being the Ray’s dugout. While my main job is to make sure I stay ahead of pitching changes (to give maximum heads-up time to do commercials), I also am charged with keeping my eyes open for things that would be of interest. For example, if Madden talks to a guy on the bench who then grabs a bat and heads toward the batting cage just upstairs from the dugout, I call that out, and it lets the AD alert the broadcast assistant to get ready with the graphics he prepared during the week for just that situation. Now, with all that, do you think that the network would give a 66 year old geezer as much face time as the beauty queens who work the sidelines of all these games? (Granted, there are a couple of exceptions in the looks department, but for every Holly Rowe there are a hundred Samantha Ponders.)

Grade: F.

3) Was what we saw on the screen an adequate substitute for not being there or better than actually being there?

Or to put it another way, did you actually see the game on TV? Answer – not enough. The only grades here are A and F. A C would be one camera at the 50 yard line showing the whole field with no replays. (The thing that I remember most vividly was the time my TIVO failed, which happened to be Hundley’s 86 yard run, and that’s not the fault of CBS, but sheesh – what a time for the recorder to go bad.) The failures outweighed the successes here. There were plenty of penalties, as IE discussed. Those of us watching but not listening were almost never allowed to see the referee’s signal of what the penalty was. Instead of focusing on the significant, the director (or more likely, the producer and director as part of an on-going conspiracy) chose to show the insignificant. The box shows "flag", and then the camera shows someone on the sideline. (This trick doesn’t always work anyhow – in the Texas A&M game, the camera focused for a long time (in terms of TV time) on some guy who didn’t even have pads on on the A&M sideline, only to quickly re-shuffle and focus on Manziel, who happened to be right next to that guy.)

The analyst sometime circled players in real time, only to have the camera move off those players. I remember seeing replays that didn’t even show the players the analyst thought were important enough for him to circle. I do remember seeing the analyst circle a player as a replay was starting, and then those guys didn’t show up when the slo-mo was run. If I were a director and decided that I would intentionally try to make the analyst look like a fool, that’s how I would do it. Maybe if I had been listening, I would have heard him say "I’m just going to circle two guys at random, and I have no idea if they’re going to be involved in the play", but I doubt it. Everyone in the truck is geared toward making the guys in the booth look good, and that didn’t happen. That’s Broadcasting 101. It’s not even upper division – it’s really more like Broadcasting 1.

I think this is a producer error. The producer wanted to try to do something beyond just the game. Sorry, producer. You lost. That sort of thing is for figure skating telecasts. Just stay on the field. (Except, I suppose, for the mandatory requirements to show teenagers with their shirts off and their (invariably ultra-skinny) chests painted screaming "We’re number 1" and to show the cheerleader girls waving their pompoms and yelling "Wooooo.") I would prefer watching the game, not seeing Jerry Jones in his box or some player’s parents high-fiving after their son scores a TD.

Anyhow, I have to give this another F.

Not to put too fine a point on it, this was the worst production job I can remember. Our local TV station puts more effort into their high school broadcasts than CBS put into this.

by Fox 71 on Jan 2, 2014 | 11:15 AM reply 2 recs flag

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.

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