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  #41  
Old 05-05-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
Chall - thanks for the feedback mate. I knew you'd have some good insight.

Honestly I think the problem of the current race is that it is either "live" coverage of the race OR an after-the-fact documentary, both of which miss the mark.

I assume you're familiar with "Deadliest Catch"? That's more along the lines of what I'm talking about from a production/storytelling perspective. The after-the-fact, episodic nature of that show takes the logistics (and potential boredom) of live coverage out of the equation. It mitigates the risk - since the risk is so high already.
I am familiar with the "Deadliest Catch"....
I think you have hit upon it, get away from live coverage and make sure you put something together, that is well shot, and where you have the time to make sure that it really hits the mark. The problem is these days, the benchmark is real high. There is no tolerance for anything but a well told, well shot, well put together kick ass story.

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Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
The big hitch in it all, as you rightly point out, is having a production crew on the boats. To make this happen - I don't really see a way around that. Otherwise you're doing nothing new. They're already using lipstick cams, fully wired audio, sailor interviews, etc. But they're still missing the excitement.

So how do you get a skeleton crew of 2 on a race boat where minimalism is key? That I don't know. But, the more important question is why is everyone leaving SO much money and overall value for their event/sport on the table by not telling the story well? There has to be a way.
I think like many other sports, the race needs to to evolve to incorporate TV.
I mentioned cricket in my above post, when we started covering cricket properly in Oz, KP went and started his very own world cup with coloured uniforms and all. (The traditional white cricket getup didn't do it for him). He also decided that week long test's were boring, so he introduced 'one day cricket'. Then to hit primetime he also commissioned Nine Network engineers to ensure that cricket ovals could be lit at night so that the game could be a 'daynighter'. (At the time unheard of and radical).
Smack, I think the two production boats idea might be hard to execute. Why not simply state that one member of every boat needs to trained in and competent as a Cameraman/sound recordist. So you have it down to one person on the boat, and it can be a sailor who is has or is required to get extensive media training.

Alternatively we have on several occasions in Sydney to Hobarts, put a Journalist/producer and a Cameraman on boats with 6 months sail training. The first time the Journo spent 5 days spewing off the back of the boat and he just got in the way but we did it

Either way, if it is a requirement that every boat has to meet then its a level playing field so all is good. Your right you then have crews on the dock, etc shooting backstory, and interviews, make sure you have a kick ass DOP in a chopper/Chase boat getting AMAZING vision.
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Last edited by chall03; 05-05-2009 at 05:17 AM.
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  #42  
Old 05-05-2009
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Cool - then I think I have a proposal to write! One other technical thing I've wondered about is how they get the really smooth boat-to-boat shots in "Deadliest Catch" when they're in 7+ meter seas. You think they're using a Wescam setup on a mount? Anyway - that needs to be another angle...chase boats filming the action.

This is going to be fun.

PS - Were you the spewing journo?

(What do you other racing types think? What logistical issues have we missed? Is it worth screwing with the crewing a bit to get wider interest and money into the sport?)

Last edited by smackdaddy; 05-05-2009 at 10:39 AM.
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  #43  
Old 05-10-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bene505 View Post
I think it's the camera technology and bandwidth for the video links. Look at professional poker. Poker as a sport was nothing until you got to see the hole cards. The same could be done for boats. 3 self-leveling cameras minimum, one at the helm, one wide-angle at the mast top (for rounding marks), one at the instruments and winch grinders. Live microphones.
Strange I should run across this. I own a server colocation company and a friend of mine hosts streaming video for his customers.

We were thinking it would be cool to put a camera on the mast head and a few more pointing various ways, like on the port and starboard sides. This would be very cool at the start and mark roundings. For so so pictures, we could use a Sprint data card to upload the feeds. I might just do it for the heck of it. I doubt many will watch though...
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Old 05-10-2009
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Okay how about this... We'll start an Internet based sailboat racing channel. We can do it like that Survivorman show. All the cameras will be on board. Each boat needs a few web cams and a data cart to upload their video. We could have a course graphic and use AIS to plot the position of each boat. We could have a commentator I guess, to make it a bit more interesting.

This is a cheap way to reach a big audience...
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  #45  
Old 05-11-2009
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Jarch - I think that's the problem. In other words, it's not about doing it "inexpensively" it's about doing it "well" - which is not inexpensive.

Most of what you lay out is already being done with the VOR and Vendee. But what's missing is the "story". It's just news at this point. And only diehards will follow that.

One achilles heel on the approach that I was discussed in the Chall is that the VOR is a 4 year race. It either needs to go to 2 years - or we need to find another bunch of sailors that are willing to round the horns every year or two for a case of rum!

Who's in?
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  #46  
Old 05-11-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
Hell, I'd watch it. If we're going to do this we'd better get started now!
Smack, you are onto a great thing here.

First, they are separate issues. I am interested in how to achieve good media coverage, specifically TV/internet. All the issues around race participation and costs are separate and peripheral to this issue – and incidentally, a non-issue in Europe where all classes from youngsters in dinghies to production boats in cruiser races are well attended. After all, F1 racing has a respectable audience, yet you can count, say, 30 drivers and teams in the whole world? Volvo Ocean Race, the same. They are not “people” sports, yet they inspire.

Like Smack, I have tried desperately to watch a sailing race with enthusiasm, but every time they kill it. It is, as Chall03 says, a case of knowing how to tell the story. What you said about the Sydney to Hobart is right on.

I was a fanatic follower of F1 while getting the BBC coverage and their superb commentators. It was a treat to hear them add technical or personal detail minute by minute while the cars went around and around monotonously, sometimes with fewer than half a dozen overtakings in hours of racing. Inboard cams, curb cams and the rest added some excitement, but without a story it was still nothing. Only when I lost the BBC coverage did I realise how boring F1 was. Or perhaps it was when I attended an F1 event in person for the first and only time: you may get excited by standing along a track where you can see one car at a time fly past every few minutes, hour after hour, but I’d rather peel potatoes.

I am sure we’ve all met the frustration of camera angles from our own sailing; you take forever the same shots from the cockpit, preferably in good weather when water doesn’t blind the lens; you get no real impression of the swell and waves. The camera by the chart table is possibly the greatest disappointment; ironically, because it follows the boat’s movements, you get no impression that the crew is holding on for life and rocking from side to side. Everything looks calm, it makes no sense.

In so-called TV coverage of races, there’s a follower boat or when extravagant a helicopter, and they mostly cover one boat at the time. Unless the boat is literally about to sink, nothing much changes along the way. The Vendee Globe was possibly the best covered in this respect, but even they had to skip the tougher parts in the Southern Ocean because boats and helicopters couldn’t keep up that far from land.

I believe it could be done, and we should not underestimate audiences. Non-sailors may not have intimate knowledge of knots and sail angles, but they grasp tactics. They would indeed be fascinated to hear more details of sail choices and changes explained, to get inside the head of the captains and join them in pondering impossible choices. BTW, this counts against having the perfect real-time coverage, because the skippers are notoriously secretive about their tactics.

I totally disagree that races need be boring TV. In the last Vendee Globe, one skipper caught the attention of thousands of viewers. Samantha Davies had none of the macho skipper nonsense, but let us into her cramped world and showed us dirty socks, sharing meals with us, and occasionally proving in brief flashes what a superb sailor she is. It was a story.

The other element to keep up interest in these excruciatingly long races was the accompanying VG online racing game. Racing in real-time with the identical weather forecast, several hundred thousand (!) participants competed online for 2 months, and had the real world progress of the skippers to compare against. If you had seen me get up in the night to adjust to wind shifts, or if I had admitted (blushing) that I acquired 3G mobile internet just for the purpose, you would understand the level of obsession a sailing race can engender. I just had to get the mobile access because I could not bear to miss a course change; I spent much time in a car at that stage, and would stop by the roadside to log on and optimize my “boat”.

We have heard time and time again of sports that “cannnot” be made into spectator events, and each time we were wrong. Poker? Billiards? Golf? Cricket? Marathon? Seriously, Tour de France?

The technical challenges cannot be ignored, but I am convinced that the guy who comes up with a storyline would turn sailing into a superb spectator sport. Let it be me! I’d make a fortune.

Last edited by OsmundL; 05-11-2009 at 03:38 PM.
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  #47  
Old 05-12-2009
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In season four.... Crew mates Jason and Grady, both greenhorns .. both with different stories to tell. Tell us what happened in the tragic go-aground event that beset the name of the boat they were recruited to be on - "Hello Grounded".

We talk about the Bering Sea and the wintress mistress one hopes to be on good terms with. All the while those brave sailors onboard the finest fishing vessels that luckily pull a "check" at the end of the season are those that are not in the race in the miserable and unpredictable conditions of the PNW.

There is a huge difference in the displacement of most of these boats that rely merely on skill and aptitue of their vessels to find that soltice in nerve wracking conditions, that would make the casual sailor merely puke their liquid lunch at the first instance of a vidoed roll...

No sir, you are looking at at least 4-5 greenhorns that wonder if a making a sheet requires them to get the folds military perfect. They will never spend time below because the sheets are fledgling as we write this.

A 26 foot Oflen, with a crew of 5 are trying to make the distance. They Rounded the start with a bit of a delay as the skipper negotiated with the onboard wench on whether there was real cream or that dried stuff to make his coffee. It didn't really matter as the crew was already wnating a shot of anything to compensate them for being out in ice, sleet, and no wind.

Crew member "joe" on "Hello I am Grounded" joked abot the name of the boat and in the subsequent grounding - was the hero. His falling overboard and being pinched in between the hull and the knife robbbing rocks - cushioned the vessel so they did not take on water. He liked 2 doses of cream and 3 packets of sugar btw.

Yes, not the VOR... but local racing can have the same excitement - just those that race it do not see it.. Nor do anyone that doesn't do it - its all ...........
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  #48  
Old 05-12-2009
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Originally Posted by artbyjody View Post
....local racing can have the same excitement - just those that race it do not see it.. Nor do anyone that doesn't do it - its all ...........

What has been missing so far is a movie director’s hand in sailing stories. A moviemaker, or writer, knows the ingredients that must be included before you have a ****** and a plot. Here are just a few of the glaring omissions in most racing videos:

1. Dialogue. Intense, moment-by-moment exchanges between crew, anger, despair, elation, conflict. Not “dialogue” like in America’s Cup or Volvo Ocean Race, where the skipper politely answers a journalist’s questions – not handicam reports from a skipper telling you how the day went, and of course giving only his filtered perspective.
2. A Start and an End: the story must get you inside the crew before the race, there must be real persons you can follow; you must have clues so that you can anticipate conflicts, failures and victories. An End – it’s not over when a boat crosses the line, you have the reactions onboard, maybe their friends ashore, perhaps hints of where they go from here.
3. Several sub-plots: while the main story is the race, you cannot kill time for very long just watching boats progress. There must be stories within the story: People stories, but it could also be equipment – they took a chance on a canting keel, it fails, they fix it, they are favorites, then underdog, then fight back.
4. Information/education: We have to lose the dumb idea that because most people don’t sail, they have no interest. The race becomes interesting when details and dilemmas are explained along the way, it is not rocket science. A couple of good commentators could drive up interest by trying to predict, by disagreeing on likely outcomes. You will then have a running commentary: “X just cannot make up ground on this leg with their hull speed” – “Yes, but you forget that they have been consistently better around the marks. Look, they will have the inside, they are going to snooker them” and so on.

Here is a sample of “Sailtubes” in the Norwegian Sailmagasinet. Purely amateur video, but you’d have to be jaded to call this boring?

http://seilmagasinet.xstream.dk/webn...yer.php?id=730

Another, more typical of amateur takes. Note the trouble with camera angles. Where would you shoot from without a clever technical setup?

http://seilmagasinet.xstream.dk/webn...yer.php?id=734

Then this, taken with a follower boat. Fast and furious, but what’s missing? Close-ups, dialogue between the crew, some explanation of what’s going on:
Se SOLO i 15–16 knop - SEILmagasinet online

And this? Great-looking action and plenty of heel, but don’t you wish the camera had been some 6ft further forward for a wider view?

YouTube - NVEExport 0001
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  #49  
Old 05-12-2009
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Gambling.

That's a word that will increase the sport's popularity. Sadly (or not) many poplular sports are made so because of sportsbooks and wagering bets. Can you bet on sailing races?
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Old 05-13-2009
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It is all about the packaging. I use the "deadliest catch" as a reference because in real life - what draws the viewers is the un-predictable. They develop the crew and the skippers, in a twisted story line that makes what we all know as sailors as being boring, a necessity, and the likes into a gut quenching have to see more.

I doubt very few watch to see the "who caps the most" for the season - it is about the personal side of doing a dangerous line of work that most of us are foreign to. It adds to the drama but the underlying reason to watch is not that - its just part of the drama to include those that have the idea of risk and pay-off.

Sailing is much the same. Its boring to the larger degree of boring - unless there is a story to tell and that story always involves the suggestion of man over mother nature, incredible circumstances, and the likes... Kinda like the Bering Sea stuff - a majority of it is them in reality - sitting for days waiting. TV we see this rush adrenalin to make it happen and yes, please add in this storm for bonus viewer addiction. Distortion of reality in real terms. Sailing - hate to say it - but if it was to become a spectator sport - would require the same kinda cut and edit that Discovery does for "Deadliest Catch"...It would have the same pros and cons of course.

do not think it would be realistic. Tv is about drama and unless you wanna be a yahoo star - we lack something on the sailing side.

1. Marketable individuals as skippers
2. Marketable individuals as crew.
3. Marketable boats..

It can be done with creative edits but what sells is carnage... most will be thankful that it didn't happen to them. None really want to go the extreme. Hell, no one ever really talks about going aground - we all do at some point though.

Its a hard sell and one that requires snipping hundreds of hours into a 40 minute format. Most of us, never want to see that or be part of to make that happen unless its for a real video of "I own a a sailboat".. (google I am on a boat / snl).

There ya go...
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