Halftime Adjustment Finding the Seams of Your Zone Since 2011

The WORLDWIDE LEADER In Forced Beta Testing

Posted on February 16, 2011

(Screenshot of ESPN Broadcast provided by @JoshBallard13. Screenshot of SNES videogame Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball provided by Every Game Ever.)

ESPN mounted Big Bertha in Rupp Arena last night. Not surprisingly, Kentucky fans were a bit upset.

ESPN Production executives will probably dismiss all the complaining as Kentucky fans being stubborn towards change but there were some serious issues with that angle's ability to be watched as the primary shot. It lacked enough vertical perception to accurate represent rebounding or the proper height of a shot from the top of the 3-point circle. It wasn't a wide-enough shot to cover the entire half-court, causing the camera to be constantly moving from side-to-side and disorienting the user.

Worst of all the camera angle was absolutely worthless covering action on the half-court line and any transition offense. In other ESPN broadcasts where the overhead angle was not the primary shot the camera would switch to the traditional sideline wide shot to cover fast breaks and half-court traps. Either ESPN Producers wouldn't switch or didn't switch fast enough in the first half. (In the second half there was much more wide-sideline angle usage. I doubt seriously it had anything to do with Twitter hashtags and had more to do with the ESPN Producers realizing they were screwing up.)

If the camera's height was reduced a bit and a wider-angled lens was used, perhaps the depth-perception and cut-off halfcourt issues could be solved. The best solution is to not use that overhead angle as the primary shot. (Um, duh.) This is the year 2011: Only the very poor or the very stubborn have not bought a wide-screened television. Showing the overhead shot as a secondary overlapping screen that doesn't necessarily block the standard wide sideline shot would be the optimal solution.

But giving Big Bertha a strap-on wasn't the only television broadcasting sin ESPN committed last night: Letting Doug Gottlieb anywhere near the controls of your production truck has to be worse. Or putting microphones on the refs. Or putting Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery on opposite ends of the court and force them to have protracted conversations with each other as though they were on a Skype conference call.

One would think that if ESPN had tested some of these innovations, they would know the limitations that the overhead camera would have in different basketball arenas like Rupp. We have no idea if these production experiments were tested at all, given that ESPN didn't even bother announcing in a press release that this week's basketball coverage would include experiments. ESPN typically has no problems promoting themselves.

Basketball fans suffered through these unannounced experiments in sports production because fans had no choice. The Kentucky/Mississippi State game slopfest was exclusively broadcast on ESPN and ESPN3. For that game and other games these past two days, millions of people were told to either accept the live production experiments or listen to the game on radio or just don't watch. For those of us who watched and griped afterwards, ESPN gets essentially free testing for production techniques that may or may not be used in the future.

ESPN just did a beta test that was forced upon us. And Big Bertha. Poor Bertha.

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Comments (3) Trackbacks (0)
  1. looooooooool that any of your readers don’t know what a beta test is

  2. I thought that was a DS game. lol

    I’m slightly disappointed.

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