Saturday, May 12, 2007

Seasickness Cam

Have you noticed the camera-on-a-wire that ABC is featuring in the NBA playoffs this year?

I hate it. The only good thing to say about it is that they mostly stop using it after a few minutes into each quarter.

I appreciate the attempt to provide a new look, and sure, everyone likes new toys. I remember this particular toy from the first game of the XFL, which I watched for the first half and then never again. (But I still remember the player whose jersey claimed his name was "He Hate Me.")

Bizarre cameras don't bother me in football. After watching the first round of the basketball playoffs, and now part of the second, I think I've figured out why they bother me so much in basketball. Two words: video games.

This will be irritating to football fans, but for me, football on TV is indistinguishable from the current state of the art in video games. I don't actually play them, but when I see demos, video game football doesn't look appreciably artificial compared to the meat version. Basketball? Computers aren't there yet. Their video game demos still look like cartoons to me. So does the view from camera on the wire.

I remember my attempts to draw action sports figures when I was a kid. Football players were the only ones that came out right. Maybe it's all the equipment, but there's something robotic about football players. There's something fundamentally simple about them, visually. So, if it wasn't impossible for a non-artist to draw them, it makes sense that it's easy for computers to do it, too. Basketball, by contrast, shows the human form almost completely unclothed, and computers rendering this as a bunch of connected polygons doesn't yet cut it.

I don't want the camera moving while I'm watching the ballet -- give me any fixed angle, and my eyes will adjust, and love to watch. If you move the camera, it just looks phony. Even the ball looks weird when it moves, especially away from the camera. It could be, I suppose, partly, the reduced optics that come with making a camera small enough to ride on a wire, and along with that, it's probably that I don't care as much about football that I don't notice the artifacts on the gridiron. Worse, it's a lot harder to follow the flow when the camera is moving, too. It feels like my eyes have to constantly refocus.

Whatever. I hate the camera on a wire for basketball. This is poetry in motion, the most graceful example of human beings ever. Don't phony it up.

Other notes:

Shout out to John Barry, who may be the second person on the planet to rant about flopping. I like to think of myself as the first. I've long irritated KK and others with my arguments that excessive flopping should merit a warning, and then a technical foul. Drawing an offensive foul is a great move, but way too many players try it way too often. I don't blame them. It's the rules. So, change the rules. I'm sick of watching seven-footers sitting on their asses when they should be trying to block shots. The hamming it up away from the ball is just silly. One of the few technical fouls ever called on me in a game was when I advised the ref after a whistle -- on guess who? -- to award my opponent an Emmy. L.A. stories.

Is not Leandro Barbosa the most fun to watch? Speed! When he hunches his shoulders and just blurs to the basket … man.

Okay, Tim Duncan might still be the absolute most. He doesn't make the highlight reels nearly as much as he should. Pity. The rest of the world could learn something about using footwork. And the glass.

And Sean Marion? Despite every shot -- except for his picture-perfect dunks -- looking absolutely wrong to me, I love his game. You don't get to see it as much against the Spurs, because there is no other team that I've ever seen as good at shutting down the high flyers.

Good stuff, when they shut off Seasickness Cam.

1 comment:

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