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The Sports Footage You Won't See Today On TV 277

Hugh Pickens writes "As sports nerds settle in today after Thanksgiving dinner for NFL and college football Reed Albergotti writes that there is some footage you will never see as he argues that the most-watched game in the US is probably the least understood. During every NFL game there are cameras hovering over the field, lashed to the goalposts and pointed at the coaches, but you will never see a shot of the entire field and what all 22 players do on every play which is considered proprietary information available only to teams and coaches. For decades, NFL TV broadcasts have relied most heavily on one view: the shot from a sideline camera that follows the progress of the ball. Anyone who wants to analyze the game, however, prefers to see the pulled-back camera angle known as the "All 22." While this shot makes the players look like stick figures, it allows students of the game to see things that are invisible to TV watchers: like what routes the receivers ran, how the defense aligned itself and who made blocks past the line of scrimmage and gives fans a 'bird's eye view' of the game to dissect team strategies, performances, and keys to success. Without the expanded frame, fans often have no idea why many plays turn out the way they do, or if the TV analysts are giving them correct information."
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The Sports Footage You Won't See Today On TV

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  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday November 24, 2011 @07:07PM (#38161488)

    John Madden said once that the TV people wanted their coverage to look more like his video game, and the video game people wanted the game to look more like TV coverage. This led to the use of the wire-suspended camera for most kicking plays.

  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday November 24, 2011 @07:11PM (#38161516)

    ESPN's daytime SportsCenter block has a system they call ESPN Axis which is based on a 3D composite taken by multiple cameras that the TV crew that does the game doesn't have time to compute, these things show up on Monday and Tuesday based on when the computers finish the rendering.

  • Jesus H. Christ, (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, 2011 @07:45PM (#38161742)

    a writer for the WSJ is giving opinions on viewing NFL games??

    OK. here's the deal for those of you, including Reed Albergotti, who don't *really* watch NFL or NCAA football.

    As the players line up for a play, the camera typically shows all 22 players. As the ball is snapped, the camera begins to zoom in slowly (allowing for some lead room by putting the ball in the rear third of the frame, as it relates to the direction of play) and as the play progresses it may or may not zoom in closer depending on how the play develops. The players can become so spread out during the course of action that to watch it all on a screen would not show much detail, including who has the fucking ball, or the path the ball takes through the air during a pass play. Some quarterbacks can throw the pill for 70 yards, for fucks sake. Pull the camera back to show the entire field and see how easy the game is too watch. You will lose sight of the ball, and won't be able to tell if the reciever caught the ball for a completion, or was nabbed by the defensive back for an interception. The camera operators even lose sight of the ball every once in awhile as it is.

    As for being a "student" of the game, there is plenty of opportunity for those who care. Every network that broadcasts football has a staff of former coaches and players who's job it is to teach fans about how the different teams operate on the field, and how effective they are against opponents. There are hours of shows dedicated to this. The film used to dissect play often shows all 22, but it sometimes isn't necessary as some on field play isn't relevent. Sure, downfield blocking by wide receivers on run plays is important, but on a 3rd and 1 attempt, they are sometimes just going through the motions; it's basically a scrum in trying to move the ball forward a yard.

    Ok, I'm done being pissed, back to the games!

  • Re:And in Rugby too (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sussurros ( 2457406 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @08:04PM (#38161850)
    That's a very good point. I never played myself but my nephew captained his nation at the World Cup (he's a lock forward) and I doubt that he misses anything from the TV broadcasts. When it is all forward play then the coverage is really pretty good. What I miss though is seeing why the back chose to kick here instead of there or, less often, why he jinked left instead of right or why they didn't pass or why they did. Some TV stations are better than others and rugby is a layered game that is hard to fit into one size so I shouldn't complain. Especially when you get games like the recent New Zealand Nude Male team playing the Spanish Nearly Nude Female team as happened two months ago in Dunedin, New Zealand as part of the recent World Cup party.
  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @10:15PM (#38162578)

    They are far more important than senors, and hence why even back in the days of SDTV professional companies used big cameras.

    Even once you go past cell phones, lenses are often the limiting factor. At work we have a couple of Panasonic HDC-TM900s for videoing classes and so on. Not professional cameras, but not cheap things either. About $1000 each when we got them, full 1920x1080 60p recording at 28mbps and so on. A good bit of their cost are in their Leica lenses.

    Well for all that, they aren't good enough for 1080 resolution. When you downsample their video to 720p it looks flawless. You can examine it very close up and everything looks as clear and crisp as the pixels allow. The resolution is the limiting aspect, not the source. However when you view the full 1080p stream, well you can see some minor defects. It isn't huge, it still shows more detail than the downsampled 720p version, but you can see that the resolution is capable of more detail, the source is limiting it (and to a lesser extent, the compression).

    To truly get 1080p it would take better lenses (and less compression).

    You need a large, quality, lens if you want to get truly high resolution photos, where each pixel actually shows distinct detail.

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