Camera position - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 3rd, 2015, 04:37 AM Thread Starter
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Camera position

Watch this clip and let me know how it makes you feel...
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ij27oGtlalY

I found it thrilling. I LOVED the close camera angles and actual close ups DURING the point. You can actually see the players faces during the point. When did cbs quit using these techniques? Was it only cbs that did this? I'm watching the garbine/kerber match right now and the camera is so high and far away it looks like two stick figures on a long thin rectangle. There's no way to tell the spin, pace or variety of shot. I often wonder if this is why interest and ratings have declined so much since the boom of the 70s. I know there are literally hundreds of channel options that didn't exist back then but I don't think any casual channel surfer would be drawn into a match glimpsing a few seconds/minutes of the modern game. But they just might watching this.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 3rd, 2015, 01:19 PM
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Re: Camera position

Excellent find. Yeah it's great to watch. I think this type of camera work makes you feel like you're watching it live courtside more than the normal camera work we see these days where it's like a fixed position/angle that captures the entire court. Here you follow the ball and your vision is more focussed around it.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 3rd, 2015, 03:08 PM
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Re: Camera position

All the American networks that covered tennis either with their own cameras or with some kind of ability to select camera angles from the native source (NBC, CBS, ESPN, USA, and even ABC) would sometimes switch to a lower camera angle during play and definitely on replays. I am surprised if it is not used that much anymore, especially in the new-fangled venues.

The camera work in other main sports has advanced by leaps and bounds, even compared with the 1980s. Believe it or not, back in the 1950s being able to show both players and the ball simultaneously made tennis the most television-friendly sport, along with boxing. But then the technological limitations were overcome, and in a lot of other sports, The Powers That Be are constantly looking for ways to make the TV-viewing experience better, so they aren't afraid to experiment with cinematography and sink some money into gadgetry. Tennis could certainly afford to be a little more creative with the game's TV presentation, especially with all the time between points. No reason they couldn't show just how high a serve kicked up or just how barely a slice cleared the net while the players are fiddling around. Of course, this requires directors who understand the game well enough to know when a point was spectacular because of the players' court positioning and/or when a point was spectacular because of ball altitude. And when to just show a nice tight butt shot.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 5th, 2015, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Camera position

There are barely anymore butt shots with the camera positioned so high. I miss that angle, even when it was just Ivan Lendl's butt I was staring at all afternoon long!

I honestly think moving the camera lower - back to this level/angle - would increase viewer numbers.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 6th, 2015, 04:26 PM
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Re: Camera position

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Originally Posted by Mark43 View Post
There are barely anymore butt shots with the camera positioned so high. I miss that angle, even when it was just Ivan Lendl's butt I was staring at all afternoon long!

I honestly think moving the camera lower - back to this level/angle - would increase viewer numbers.
Sadly, if you want the low camera angle to show variety (of shots, not butts), they'd have to use it mainly during men's matches. Changes of pace, spin, and trajectory are not exactly the hallmarks of the women's game these days. If you want more viewers, I think you gotta do something about the rackets and strings and the general philosophy and training of the players first. And you gotta talk some sense into the tennis fans and the casual channel-surfers, because our side is at fault, too. It's a tough problem to fix.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 9th, 2015, 03:01 PM
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Re: Camera position

Oh Mark, you always did thrill so easily! ;-) It's good to see you around these parts!

I agree actually. I used to appreciate CBS' production value on tennis compared to the other networks that I was able to watch at the time. I thought that they were always a step ahead in making you feel part of the action. Of course, today's production value almost literally puts you in a courtside seat at times. One of the things that is plaguing college football right now is that the television experience is now so good that people are starting to not buy the tickets to actually attend the games themselves. I wonder if tennis promoters are facing the same thing?

On the butt angle, I thought it was a great shot because it showed the movement on the ball. Particularly when a righty served a slice serve out wide, it helped to make the viewer appreciate the craft of the server and the abilities of the returner. Of course, my dad loved seeing Chris Evert's and Virginia Wade's granny bloomers from that position, and later, Steffi.

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 10th, 2015, 12:14 PM
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Re: Camera position

I agree that camera angle significantly impacts the quality of viewing. When Steffi Graf played Helena Sukova one year (1989, I believe), the camera for the broadcast I watched (much later on tape) was sooo high up that I couldn't believe a network would dare to show such an incredibly awful viewpoint.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 11th, 2015, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Camera position

So this began late 80s outside the US. I just caught the first few games of the 1989 USO final and this wasn't yet the case. It's such a shame and it very much lessens the enjoyment of the game for me. It's like two stick figures racing around an odd rectangle.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 11th, 2015, 06:31 PM
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Re: Camera position

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Originally Posted by Ms. Anthropic View Post
All the American networks that covered tennis either with their own cameras or with some kind of ability to select camera angles from the native source (NBC, CBS, ESPN, USA, and even ABC) would sometimes switch to a lower camera angle during play and definitely on replays. I am surprised if it is not used that much anymore, especially in the new-fangled venues.

The camera work in other main sports has advanced by leaps and bounds, even compared with the 1980s. Believe it or not, back in the 1950s being able to show both players and the ball simultaneously made tennis the most television-friendly sport, along with boxing. But then the technological limitations were overcome, and in a lot of other sports, The Powers That Be are constantly looking for ways to make the TV-viewing experience better, so they aren't afraid to experiment with cinematography and sink some money into gadgetry. Tennis could certainly afford to be a little more creative with the game's TV presentation, especially with all the time between points. No reason they couldn't show just how high a serve kicked up or just how barely a slice cleared the net while the players are fiddling around. Of course, this requires directors who understand the game well enough to know when a point was spectacular because of the players' court positioning and/or when a point was spectacular because of ball altitude. And when to just show a nice tight butt shot.
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