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Thread: Sports Announcers, the never-ending delimna.

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    Purdue Technologist vanderwielen's Avatar
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    Sports Announcers, the never-ending delimna.

    As many of you start your journey producing sporting events with your tricaster, here's an old-fart's perspective after a 1000 games (or 2000, but who'se counting?)

    Seven Common Mistakes by Television Play by Play and Color Analysts

    1. Overtalking - Talent is not paid by the word. I’ve often told ‘overtalkers’, “a picture is worth a thousand words and I’m airing 60 of them every second. You can’t overtalk my 60,000 words a second, so don’t try”. The Sign of a gifted announcer is knowing when to shut up, be quiet and let the game action and venue audio speak for itself during a poignant moment. The Legendary Jack Buck, after Kirby Puckett's iconic walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series paused and simply said, "And we'll see you tomorrow night!"

    2. Directing from the Announcers Chair - The truck is loaded with multiple above the line professionals. Talent attempting to call the shots by stating, “If we could get a look at coach so and so, or if we could see that again on replay” is often met with a barrage of expletives from the truck as the Director, Producer and all hands on deck drop absolutely everything to support the ad-hoc, on-air change of course directive from Talent.

    3. Over Analyzing - Who the hell knows what the motion offense is...and more importantly, who cares? The viewer can be mentally worn down if the discussion matriculates to an uncomfortable level of rapid fire, over complicated discussions using language requiring the viewer to drop his visual observation focus to query his mind for some kind of translation. Stay simple.

    “The Rims have been unkind and rigid for both teams tonight as the ball is failing to drop” … should have been ”Both teams are not shooting very well tonight” (the viewer doesn’t know why a rigid rim is good or bad, and what does the ball dropping have to do with rigid rims?)

    “Williams is shooting 12-19 from beyond the arc, 122-283 for the season”...should have been ”Williams is an excellent three point shooter. His season average is 43 percent.” (math could have been your viewers least favorite subject and doing calculations in his or her head is distracting)

    4. Describing the Intuitively Obvious - “Williams drive right, nothing there...looks under the basket, then left and finally he dumps it outside to Johnson”. Of course he did, I could see that on TV! A better description might have been, “Williams...back to Johnson”

    5. Lack of Prep - As a producer, I’ll get the bulk of emails correcting announcer mistakes. It’s assumed by the viewer that factual information by Talent has been researched, vetted and proven but often unprepared talent will make such simple mistakes like name mispronunciations. We contract a veteran local announcer, in fact a local hall of fame announcer, who always visits with the local PA person to go over pronunciations. Is it Smith or Smythe?

    6. “We talked Earlier” and other cliches - probably the most ridiculous and rhetoric verbal placebo is the “We talked earlier about this”...blah blah blah.” If we talked about this earlier, it’s already been said. Or “We talked about this before the game...but...” In this case, what the hell DID YOU say before the game that you won’t share now? I’ll include in this category the pathetically ridiculous opening...”The sky is blue the grass is green and we’re going to play baseball at Victory field”. My response over IFB is probably something like , “No ****? Is this why I’m not home with my family and in a venue far far away and currently in my 8th hour of work before the first pitch has been thrown? Thank you Albert Einstein” ...but the best opening began to a broadcast was with the words, "Again, I'm XXXX and welcome to Conseco Fieldhouse"...Again? seriously? I'm, paying you 500 bucks to say "Again" as the first words out of your mouth. Oh, another beauty before we leave this paragraph...a totally unprepared announcer said, "And here come the Southeastern Roosters!". Where upon I said over IFB, "The word is Roster, but they are the Eagles you idiot!"

    7. Fighting for Air Time. This can manifest itself multiple ways. In one scenario, Color simply takes the discussion from Play by Play and carries a verbal diatribe past a successful basket or pass completion without pause. Play by Play will play defense against an aggressive Color analyst by deleting inflections between sentences, actually not taking a breath, in an attempt to shut the door on Color’s unwanted inclusion. Recognizing this, Color will concentrate on Play by Play's pattern in an attempt to interject. I actually enjoy the “Lone Ranger” style of announcing. A single solitary play by play announcer just like the old days. Where and when did we think adding a color analyst was a good idea? Now that said, some analysts are hugely entertaining. Dick Vitale and John Madden are examples. We have a local Color guy who treats every game like a national championship. His enthusiasm is contagious. Anyone tuning in must surely think this game has massive importance. Of course, left unsaid for purely chauvanistic purposes is the pretty, female sideline reporter. I won’t go there. (She’ll need some of that air time to tell us what coach said before the game...but only after I tell who the coach is and what he said).

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    NewTek System Integrator PIZAZZ's Avatar
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    So Rick, tell us what you think.
    Just jabbing my friend.


    Some truly insightful information there. I agree with you on so many levels.

    Now if we could just train the on-air talent how to hit the cough button when THEY HAVE TO COUGH!!!
    Jef Kethley
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    Registered User cuspclub's Avatar
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    You can tell that Rick has been there and got the t-shirt. With that many games behind him, he has really paid some dues! I've learned a ton from Rick through this forum and his behind the scenes YouTube videos. Thanks for sharing and hope to hear more!

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    Octopus Switcher D3Cast's Avatar
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    Rick: Great stuff. I'm going to -- not quite disagree, but take a different tack on this:

    Quote Originally Posted by vanderwielen View Post
    4. Describing the Intuitively Obvious - “Williams drive right, nothing there...looks under the basket, then left and finally he dumps it outside to Johnson”. Of course he did, I could see that on TV! A better description might have been, “Williams...back to Johnson”
    You've done LOTS of TV in your time, but you've also done plenty of webcasts, as well.

    When I started producing college sports video webcasts in October 2002 (RealMedia, 320x240 @ 256K!), we stressed to our announcers: "call it like a radio broadcast. There's no guarantee that the folks watching will be able to see it as well as you do, so a little over-description is perfectly appropriate." I understand that the two mediums are rapidly converging these days, and that the quality gap is shrinking fast -- especially the stuff you guys are doing for ESPN3 -- but I do still feel like, for most webcasts that aren't approaching broadcast TV quality, there's no harm in what I would call a solid radio-style delivery. Just my opinion.

    The rest of the advice is absolutely spot-on, though. Thanks!

    -steve

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    Purdue Technologist vanderwielen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by D3Cast View Post
    Rick: Great stuff. I'm going to -- not quite disagree, but take a different tack on this:



    You've done LOTS of TV in your time, but you've also done plenty of webcasts, as well.

    When I started producing college sports video webcasts in October 2002 (RealMedia, 320x240 @ 256K!), we stressed to our announcers: "call it like a radio broadcast. There's no guarantee that the folks watching will be able to see it as well as you do, so a little over-description is perfectly appropriate." I understand that the two mediums are rapidly converging these days, and that the quality gap is shrinking fast -- especially the stuff you guys are doing for ESPN3 -- but I do still feel like, for most webcasts that aren't approaching broadcast TV quality, there's no harm in what I would call a solid radio-style delivery. Just my opinion.

    The rest of the advice is absolutely spot-on, though. Thanks!

    -steve
    Steve, in the case of a lighter webcast, i'd agree. Our streams now are 640x360 at 800k, so the picture should again speak for itself. But your post got me thinking...most PBP guys came from radio. I'd guess there's 50 radio or internet radio broadcasts per video production so it would make sense they're overtalking. It takes a talented announcer to switch back and forth.

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