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View Full Version : Camera position in tennis matches on tv


Benhur
04-29-2008, 01:58 PM
Somebody ought to tell the guys in charge of televising tennis matches about the importance of the position of the cameras. I was watching a replay of the Montecarlo final. During the third game of the first set, most of the game was broadcast from a very low camera, slightly above the player's head. The feel you get from that angle has nothing to do with the high camera positions they have in most tournaments. You can see the arc of the ball, the spin, and especially the speed at which the ball comes so much better. As if from the perspective of the player. The higher the camera, the more it looks like a bi-dimensional video game, with no depth. I can't understand why they haven't figured this out yet, and why some tournaments (like Madrid) have the camera positioned so high up. It would help tennis enormously if they showed more of the game from a low camera angle.

On a related topic, I've always wondered why baseball (which I don't really follow) does not show the game mainly from behind the batter rather than behind the pitcher. It would be so much more exciting because you could appreciate the quality of the pitch, the speed and curve of the ball, and what it takes to hit it, so much more from the batter's perspective. The way they show it, with the ball moving away from the camera, rather than into it, is so much duller.

These are rather simple things and it is surprising they have not thought of changing them.

Nadal_Freak
04-29-2008, 02:01 PM
Yeah with the low angle you get to see what Fed has to deal with against Nadal on clay. The high angle shots make it look easier for Fed and that he is just off.

miniRafa386
04-29-2008, 02:01 PM
i agree, but with baseball, the fans at home want to know what the pitcher is gonna throw from what the catcher signals to him

crash
04-29-2008, 02:05 PM
I totally agree with you Benhur. It is a pleasure to see those few games with the low camera angle and I don't understand why they don't use it more often as it is present at almost every big tournament (they do use it a little more at the US open). I also don't understand why they zoom on the server and then switch camera right in the middle of his motion...

Defcon
04-29-2008, 02:35 PM
You guys are complaining about the camera angle?! Tv networks DO NOT care about tennis - its hard enough getting them to show a match these days in its entirety, with basic necessities like knowledgeable commentary and accurate schedules now a welcome surprise.

I'm happy if I can watch tennis on tv and not some crappy 3kbps stream.

jmsx521
04-29-2008, 02:39 PM
I had posted a thread on this a while ago. I agree, the lower the camera the better, because it brings you closer to the action. I think one of the reasons the US Open's night matches are so spectacular is because of that too. When the players hit wide shots, the camera-person turns the camera left and right to cover the sides of the court that are normally out-of-view for low-positioned camera; it's better than just anchoring the camera without movement.

CanadianChic
04-29-2008, 02:40 PM
I agree with this and find it difficult to see the ball when the camera shoots from too high above.

Moose Malloy
04-29-2008, 02:54 PM
On a related topic, I've always wondered why baseball (which I don't really follow) does not show the game mainly from behind the batter rather than behind the pitcher. It would be so much more exciting because you could appreciate the quality of the pitch, the speed and curve of the ball, and what it takes to hit it, so much more from the batter's perspective. The way they show it, with the ball moving away from the camera, rather than into it, is so much duller.


Yeah, I've wondered this as well. Sometimes they show a replay after an at-bat & the ball does all kinds of crazy things you couldn't see from the angles they normally use. You would be able to see how dangerous it is to face MLB pitches when you see the view the batter sees.

i agree, but with baseball, the fans at home want to know what the pitcher is gonna throw from what the catcher signals to him

well they can alternate angles, some of these at-bats take forever. and are many fans at home really aware of what the signals mean? those must be some hardcore fans.

sarmpas
04-29-2008, 03:29 PM
Longer range/high camera positions allow more advertising hoardings to appear on tv more of the time.

gonzo2000
04-29-2008, 03:40 PM
This is a great point. After having watched countless tennis matches on TV, I have a strong feeling that producers and directors of televised tennis do not play the game and thus have no as to camera angles and positioning. I have seen really idiotic camera angles and shots. Real head scratchers.

Benhur
04-29-2008, 04:24 PM
I agree with this and find it difficult to see the ball when the camera shoots from too high above.

The thing is there seems to be quite a difference between tournaments. For example, the main camera at Indian Wells seems to be fairly low (not as low as on the very low camera, but low enough) whereas the main camera in tournaments like Madrid is just ridiculously high. This should be easy to fix, and the only explanation for it not being fixed is that the guys in charge of the tv coverage have not clue about tennis. They just don't realize that the game on tv looks much closer to reality from low camera position than a high position, because from a high position you lose all the depth.

An extraordinary experience for me is watching pros practice from right behind the baselina, near ground level.

Gundam
04-29-2008, 04:28 PM
My worst experience was from the WTA championship match between Mauresmo and Pierce a couple years ago. The angle itself was not that high but for some reasons (camera optics?), the court looked wider, much wider than it was and appeared much shorter. So, it was almost funny. No depth, no sense of pace at all. Mauresmo's loopy shots looked really slow and LOOPY and ineffective (they looked fat too, sorry).

I like 'from the viewpoint of the players' setup. One good example was one of my old recordings, between J Mac and Leconte, late 80s AO match. I feel I can watch it as if I am playing. Awesome!

Gundam
04-29-2008, 05:26 PM
http://youtube.com/watch?v=wHaN2h21ANs

In this case, I don't mind whether high angle, low angle, side ange, or under ground angle.:) It's an old footage but somehow it's rather watchable, isn't it? Beautiful match.

Is Laver the one with the hat (and maybe a piece of cabbage underneath it)?

johnny ballgame
04-29-2008, 05:30 PM
Agree. A variety of camera angles (shot from both low and high) throughout the match would add greatly to the production value. Make this happen TV people!

CanadianChic
04-29-2008, 05:52 PM
The thing is there seems to be quite a difference between tournaments. For example, the main camera at Indian Wells seems to be fairly low (not as low as on the very low camera, but low enough) whereas the main camera in tournaments like Madrid is just ridiculously high. This should be easy to fix, and the only explanation for it not being fixed is that the guys in charge of the tv coverage have not clue about tennis. They just don't realize that the game on tv looks much closer to reality from low camera position than a high position, because from a high position you lose all the depth.

An extraordinary experience for me is watching pros practice from right behind the baselina, near ground level.

I agree with your post. I see you are a fellow Canadian, so may I ask how you saw Indian Wells? ESPN didn't cover it and I'm always on the lookout for the Tennis Channel through satellite.

superman1
04-29-2008, 05:54 PM
I've been saying this for a long time, but no one seems to believe that something as simple as changing the camera angles could be enough to boost ratings.

Fee
04-29-2008, 06:51 PM
Somebody ought to tell the guys in charge of televising tennis matches about the importance of the position of the cameras.

Have YOU ever filled out a network feedback form or written to a tournament director about this issue?

The placement of cameras within the stands is usually decided on by the Tournaments, sometimes working with the broadcast partners. Sometimes the broadcast partners have no say in camera placement because the TD's don't want to give up the seats.

But feel free to write to the parties involved with your thoughts and let us know if you get a response.

jmsx521
04-29-2008, 06:54 PM
http://youtube.com/watch?v=wHaN2h21ANsWas that recorded from a hot air balloon, or from a spy satellite?

WillAlwaysLoveYouTennis
04-29-2008, 07:03 PM
As long as they don't pan back and forth like they were following the ball, as if sitting on line with the umpire, I don't mind so much. Glad to have the coverage, but yes the camera angle is important. A long diagonal is my favorite, just above the head height of the players.

I was at least glad at Monte Carlo they generally kept the camera above waist height when shooting Nadal about to serve.

rafa_prestige89
04-29-2008, 07:04 PM
You are totally right Benhur! They all should broadcast tennis matches from the players point of view...let's make a signed letter and send it to the ATP!

Hatari!
04-29-2008, 07:08 PM
I agree with BenHur. My coach gave me a tape of Agassi and Sampras's 2001 U.S. Open quarterfinal. The camera was behind them, a little above the player's head. Wow! What a difference! It was like I was playing the match!

vince916
04-29-2008, 07:18 PM
http://youtube.com/watch?v=K34NlWBen84

Something like that but a little higher with less camera movement would be good. That video was awesome when it was on stage6 and much higher quality.

MariaS
04-29-2008, 07:24 PM
I changed my mind. I prefer a somewhat lower angle but not where we're situated behind the player (so not ground level). I like it shoulder high. I don't mind higher angles thrown in for a few minutes but not for the entire match.

Leublu tennis
04-30-2008, 01:52 AM
After watching matches on tv where the most common angle is from the back of a player, I now have to sit in the same place or I feel uncomfortable. But if you look around the general area behind players, what do you see? The most expensive seats. The camera is placed higher, at a walk way or something, so it will not interfere with the audience. Camera placement is where it can be placed and not where its best placed.

Benhur
04-30-2008, 03:05 AM
I agree with your post. I see you are a fellow Canadian, so may I ask how you saw Indian Wells? ESPN didn't cover it and I'm always on the lookout for the Tennis Channel through satellite.

Well I was still in San Francisco in March (I tend to spend winters there as much as possible). But you can watch all MS events online at the ATP Masters Series tv site:

http://www.atpmastersseries.tv/page/Home/0,,11444,00.html

Gundam
04-30-2008, 10:13 AM
http://youtube.com/watch?v=wHaN2h21ANs Was that recorded from a hot air balloon, or from a spy satellite?

Yeah, it's from quite high angle. But I was glad because I could see the players and ball relatively well for such an old footage. BTW, the Monte Carlo footage is great. It's like they are carrying me on their backs! I have a recording of that match but the angle was slightly higher (still it was good enough- amazing match indeed).

If the players can carry a camera (a la racing), it would be awesome but most of us will have motion sickness, :)

BTW, I can see the pros hit actually quite high (1-2 meters) over the net (from Monte Carlo footage). Good to see it.

This much angle is fine with me
http://youtube.com/watch?v=56JQ3V_tuA4&feature=related

But what do you think??
http://youtube.com/watch?v=4XMg9yseyBU&feature=related

Actually the latter seems to be from lower angle than the first one but for some reasons, the court looks so distorted...can anyone explain this?

lilycolefan
04-30-2008, 11:00 AM
When the camera angle is very low it's hard to follow the ball and see where it lands on the other side. I like the high camera angle but not as high as it is at Monte Carlo. I do believe they should alternate more often though.

WeaponX
04-30-2008, 11:25 AM
Totally agree with benhur

Leublu tennis
04-30-2008, 01:43 PM
Well I was still in San Francisco in March (I tend to spend winters there as much as possible). But you can watch all MS events online at the ATP Masters Series tv site:

http://www.atpmastersseries.tv/page/Home/0,,11444,00.html

You have to be kidding. Winters in San Francisco? Its that awful rain day in and day out. I know; I lived there for 10 years.

fgzhu88
04-30-2008, 03:11 PM
If anyone remembers the angle at Paris Bercy, that one was the best IMO.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=im-ssnCTlNA&fmt=18