Tuesday, February 24, 2009

PSP Phoenix Open

This review of the Phoenix Open is less an autopsy and more like a game of Operation. I'm gonna skip around to the items of interest to me and if there's something I don't cover feel free to ask. (Unless it pertains to arcane divisional minutiae. I don't know and I don't care. Okay, that's not completely true--I do care but mostly in an intellectual for the good of the game sorta way and not in the I must know every division 4 Race 2-2 result. If you know what I mean. And I think you do.)

Did you catch the new Race 2 ref jerseys? Pretty snazzy, right? (Snazzy is too a word. My Dad used to use it regularly.) I'm not exactly mocking the new jerseys because they look fine. Hard to go wrong with your basic black and white stripe ensemble. But I do have a couple of thoughts: The new austerity sure seems to have carried over some of the old excess with it. Not unlike the Obama Justice Department. Anyway, I get the whole unified game theory and while my inner anarchist cringes I'm less concerned about the "unified" part than the "game" part. Cutbacks are hitting everybody--Race 2-less, less Race 2-time and so on but apparently this was as good a time as any to job out the design and production of new officials jerseys. Maybe it's just me. And no, it's not a big thing. Still.
The other observation is for all you divisional types who would like to see a more progressive--when I say progressive, you mean more--Race 2 structure the jerseys are on your side already. The little paintballs? that expand across the bottom of the Race 2 design have numbers in them; 2 - 7 including 3 and 6. So it wouldn't be like, no, sorry, we can't extend your race 'cus we'd, like, you know, have to have all new ref jerseys made. Au contraire.

The Legend of Frank the Tank [insert punchline here] continues to reach new heights. I am less interested (this time) in the incident than in how it was handled. If you haven't heard Frank was upset during a match and there was some physical contact with one of his own players. Within the rules he was penalized but the full brunt of the penalty was borne by the team. I understand a ref being more concerned in the moment for the safety of any player and taking action in accordance with the rules. But for future reference shouldn't there be a better way? In essence Frank loses his cool, grabs one of his kids and as a result the teams is assessed major penalties and has to start down two bodies for two points in a critical post-prelim match. That's adding injury to insult.

The webcast continues to surpass expectations--or at least it ought to--though it seemed to be dropping out quite a bit on Saturday. (As was I so maybe you had better results on that score.) I did not break down Matty's door to get on the webcast but since they allowed Trevor Pearson on I'm confident they'll put just about anybody on--so maybe next time. (Love you, Trev. Get a haircut. That may pass as hetero in the androgynous and sexually confused state of Minnesota but not in the Carolinas.)
The graphic bar was lean, mean and informative while carrying a subtle PSP styling cue or two. Its only weakness was font scaling which left a few teams abbreviated like a Wheel of Fortune puzzle. Although, that was probably a conscience decision in preference of uniformity.
The complete presentation continues to improve from an already high standard and I have no doubt that with another event or two under their belts we will have a hard time differentiating the quality from broadcast.

More in a while.


anonachris said...

The webcast has 2 things going for it: immediacy and commentary.

Without the commentary it would be fairly useless as you're just watching a guy run to a bunker and trying to figure out what is going on as the camera jumps around trying to follow the action, but almost always missing it. The commentary helps to bring this together and explain what you just missed and are now seeing the after effects of.

Immediacy is pretty obvious... people want to find out who is winning and who just won right now.

The production quality of footage is good, but the actual content of the footage is sorely lacking. And this may simply be a function of filming paintball as Pat is pretty damn good. (Although surprisingly is camera people are lacking a bit, I didn't see too many over the shoulder streams of paint or paint coming at the camera, or views of the breakout from the starting station. These kind of shots are awesome and we're missing out on them. Better, more ballsy camera men might help. Of course the cameramen could be great, but from what I saw it was just the same old side view time after time without switching it up other than occasional wide shot of the whole field.

So they can improve a little on the content, but you can't always capture the awesome video. Maybe 1-2 awesome clips per match is about the best you can expect.

Which means they need to focus on their strengths. Commentary to tie it all together.

Matty did a good job. Maybe make some more time for re-caps in between each point so we can better discuss what happened? The telecaster suggestion would be cool to see some writing on the screen. And maybe introduce a little more humor and life into the commentary. The best parts I thought was the occasional bits of humor that flared up. Paintballers are a funny type, I'd like to see more more.

Anyway those are my thoughts. It's general better to exploit your strengths, and shore up some of your weaknesses than to try to attempt turning your weakness into a strength.

Patrick Spohrer said...

Good input, thanks. You can be sure that we will address a lot of what I call holes in the webcast... I have never been one to rest on my laurels and because of this we will see better things to come. Live paintball is a different animal all together it is a hard beast to tame. Lot of what I do in my paintball films would be foolish to do in a webcast, like the ballsy shots you mentioned, which could leave a camera down with a shot to the lens. It is a tradeoff of coverage or dynamics.


anonchris said...

When you get a lens blasted, cut to a different camera while the camera guy frantically cleans it off... it can be done and back up and running in 30 seconds to a reasonable degree unless you're very unlucky. Plus it adds some excitement to the user who just got shot in the face through is computer screen. Thanks for taking my comments with the intent their were constructed...sometimes its easy to misread intent on the web.

Baca Loco said...

Yep. Spot on. I confess to shorthanding that yesterday. What Pat didn't say is there were plans and cameras intended to work the D.wire and overhead that didn't quite get into service for Phoenix so I expect Pat and the guys have plenty of innovation yet to come.

Kudos to you and the crew. Continued great effort.

Baca Loco said...

What about shooting through a removeable or replaceable clear filter so the actual lens never gets shot?

Lawrence said...

this might be crazy: dolly shots. Id love to follow a player breaking to a corner with a dolly, or follow a runthrough down the tape lol. Be freaking sweet.

But, they're doing a good job and i imagine that with some more events we're going to see some really cool innovations being made in broadcasting live paintball.

Patrick Spohrer said...

Yes we are using clear filters just for that reason, it's the 30sec-1min to clean the paint off the filter that we are trying to bypass. I would love to have a dolly down the tape but time and money is a factor, but yes one day...


Don Saavedra said...

We almost need two cameramen at each position, a spotter and the actual cam operator. Patrick's view is restricted to what his cameramen are showing him, he can't really see the field, and the same is true for the cameramen themselves. There were times when I overheard Patrick telling the guys when a move was coming and to get ready, but you know how paintball is, the time it takes to get that out and BAM!, the move is already finished.
And what is needed to have 2 people per camera? More money... it always seems to come down to that.

anonachris said...

More money for 2 people? Just get a bunch of PBN "interns". But I actually don't think what we need is a second operator taping a cameraman on the shoulder that something is about to happen. That would be very annoying and most likely you'd have the camera guy chasing the action and always just missing it rather than anticipating it (hard to do consistently).

Pat, what shutter speed are your cameras at? I used to get a lot more paint flying in the air with 1/1000 and faster. I know video pros complain about choppy footage, but it isn't bad unless you're moving around a lot, and even then it's worth it in my opinion to see all the balls. I don't think the average user notices it, but a trained eye like yours probably wants smooth as butter footage. And for everyone else I'm not talking about obnoxious/annoying camera shake.

You can even get paint coming out of the corner bunker if you stand at the right angle on the sidelines when the sun is lower on the horizon around 3pm.

Filters can get blow off if they get shot, I've had it happen a few times, maybe Pat too. But even still, 30 seconds is being generous I think. I've had lenses shot dozens of times, I wiped them off with a towel and was back in business in 10 seconds - procedure, fast towel wipe, spit, towel wipe again. As long as the operators have a big towel that's reasonably clean it will be ok. You might get a little bit of haze, but really I think people would get into it and enjoy it, even from a commentary perspective.

Anyway I'm not bashing the footage by any means. I just know it can get better. The camera switching and technical know how to pull it all together by Pat is amazing. The commentary really brings it all together. All it needs is some more intense shots. And like I said, on a good day you'll probably only get 2 of those per match anyway.

Patrick Spohrer said...

Thanks Buddy, and yes it will get better.