The live feed began this morning and was still going strong a few minutes ago as the Tennessee Volunteers were pillaging the badly mismatched East Tennessee State Buccaneers. If it was Little League or Pee Wee soccer somebody would have invoked the mercy rule by now. But no, they's playing a man's game--or at least trying to play a man's game. The field at CFP in Lakeland, FL looks good--and looks to be holding up pretty well so far--they haven't been letting anyone play on it for a while to get it ready for this championship weekend. The mostly elevated camera views of the field are generally pretty good. (I think there are four cameras in action; one above the commentators' booth, one at the southern end of the field, one at the opposite snake side corner and a roving man on the ground. Make that five 'cus there's one, probably fixed position, focused on the commentators too.) Taking turns working the booth have been Mr. Paintball Matty Marshall, the ever youthful Chris 'Pony' LaSoya, Ollie Lang & 'Catfish' Arcilla with all of them doing a solid job adding color and commentary to the action. The rough edges in their presentations are my favorite parts. Catfish making a joke that leaves Chris speechless and the guys shuffling through pages of notes and information trying to keep up with the players on the field as they give shout outs to both good and poor play. It's good stuff. In fact it's better than the paintball. No, wait a second, I take that back. It's better than the visual coverage of the paintball. The only real weakness of the broadcast has been the too frequent disconnect between what we're seeing and what the commentators are talking about when it comes to the action on field. The difficulty is with the director and the switching of camera angles. It's too late most of the time if it happens at all and the result is we hear how a point played out but we don't necessarily see more than a few disconnected details. They'd do better to stick with wider framed shots and only close in on things like tight action in the snake or the bigger moves on the D-wire or up the middle. Otherwise the broadcast quality is quite good.
On a separate note this is the third year in a row I've seen some college championship paintball--we usually have practice at CFP over the NCPA weekend--but not this year--and the level of play is, I think, improving. It's not brilliant paintball and there's still enough fundamental mistakes to make you cringe at times--make me cringe anyway--but across the board it's better and I saw a few standout individual players today. In addition the Army team (lost a tight match to Long Beach) was the most tactically sophisticated breakout team I've seen short of the pros. They were outstanding and if their individual play approaches that level they will be a very good team.
As a follow-up to the NPPL broadcast on ESPN3 it's almost as if competitive paintball is picking up some momentum, making some real progress. Or maybe an old cynic is just going soft.
Saturday Update: I'ma assume somebody is reading VFTD and paying attention 'cus the camera work and choice of shots and frames today is a big improvement over yesterday. The guys in the booth are getting more comfortable as well and doing a better job of introducing the players involved in the game action along with solid commentary and paintball conversation. Kudos to Chris and the rest of the NCPA & Fox crews.