The Good Old Days!
At this moment, there are two surfing contests going on! One is a prime event being held at Fernando de Noronha in Brazil and the other is in Australia. So I am over the moon with excitement. As one would also gather from reading my wonderful blog, I am a huge fan of Fantasy Pro Surfing. I picked my team for both events so all there is left do now is to kick up my feet and grimace as my picks bomb out heat by heat. The great thing is that in 2012, just about every contest has a webcast so it is not like those terrible days of old. I remember those days quite fondly. A friend would receive a phone call from your other buddy who was at the contest site and they would tell you that this surfer won the event and this guy did well and the waves were epic and on and on and on. About 6 months later, you could pick up a magazine and smile with pride after viewing the 3 or 4 pictures of the event. So now in this day and age, you can watch round after round and for once, actually feel connected to the sport of kings. Well, there is one glitch…literally.
Webcast Is Up and So Is My Blood Pressure!
The Association of Surfing Professionals (A.S.P.), is obviously ensuring that the contests are being run by a governing body and the money is there to be collected for the competitors but there seems to be no standard to what is an acceptable website and live broadcast. This is evident in two manners: The live feed itself which also covers the production team, and the second being the commentators. After watching a few years’ worth of contests, it is very apparent that each event is allowed to pick their own webcast company and they are given free rein to choose their own commentators for the event. So what you end up with is that you can watch a Jr. Pro contest from Huntington Beach, California, and the event seems to be produced by Steven Spielberg and the live feed runs flawlessly. Then you watch a larger Prime event in another part of the world and it is like you are watching an old reel to reel tape of a television show from the 1970’s. So, am I being cruel because the one is being produced in the United States and the other is being produced in Brazil? Not at all! Why? Because you also watch events that are being broadcasted out to the world from a contest site that was constructed inside a lagoon by some coral reef that is situated a half mile from the shoreline. Amazingly enough, the feed is great from the South Pacific yet a spot in France can not muster the same professionalism.
Anatomy of a Web Disaster
I often wonder what happens with these surfing contests that creates the problem. Brazil runs perhaps one of the tightest ships when it comes to their surfing program yet their websites are the biggest offenders.
As the above pictures states, I imagine the contest staff remembering a month before the contest that they are also having a live webcast and then the scramble begins to find some company to deliver the quality that we love. Thankfully one of them suggests to use their cousin again who did the stellar job last year. This year, they promise to use reel to reel computers to upload the feed!
This brings us to the production team! Once again, the big offenders are any non-WCT event in Brazil and any non-WCT event in France. If it is not bad enough that the live feed is going down, the production crew also ensures your blood is boiling by doing things such as:
- Not updating the webpage. For example, the event was off and running yet on the front page it said, “Event is Off”.
- Missing rides. This is normally going on while the film crew is video taping either 15-year-old girls or moms walking with their toddlers who are smearing ice cream on their face.
- Webcasts only in Portuguese and French.
Time to Rock the Mic!
The next big issue comes from the webcast team themselves. Yes! The commentating!
The first problem I see is that the sponsoring companies are allowed to pick whomever they want to be on the microphone. I am not going to dog anyone out because a blog is supposed to be short! There are surfers that do a great job on the microphone and they offer a lot of in site into what is going on during the event. Sadly, on the opposite end of the spectrum, there are guys who were great surfers in their time that are being paid to be in the booth, but they have no real perspective on the current pulse of contest surfing. For example:
Red is Kolohe Andino. I have heard of this kid but I’m not to familiar with his surfing. He looks pretty good to me!
C’mon! This shows why playing Fantasy Pro Surfing is important to someone in the industry. We all know who Kelly Slater is but if you have never seen Joan Duru surf, please take off your headphones and report to the churro stand.
Then you get moments such as these that go hand in hand with the production mistakes.
Commentator: There are a lot of great spots here in the north of France. Take for instance…Holy Crap! What is that!
Camera pans over.
First off, I am a big fan of Penguins, Mark Richards, a fishing boat, or a list of thousands of things the camera could have panned over to see but the problem is that this normally happens right when the biggest wave of the heat is coming in and the surfers are scratching around the line up. Then the commentators say something like, “Man, that was a great ride blue just got…hopefully we will get this on replay.”
The Conclusion-As I Am Searching for My Blood Pressure Meds
At any moment, the contest in Brazil is going to be starting back up. Fernando de Noronha is looking beautiful. It also appears that they are going to use a fish eye lens to really get that dramatic 1980’s special effects look to the event. Please A.S.P., fix this issue so we can enjoy glitch free events. It is a long wait until the next 1 Star Jr. Pro in Pismo Beach which will boast a low purse, unknown kids, and a webcast built upon the same technology used in the film Avatar.