Tuesday, 28 October 2014

RDS hockey telecasts are vastly superior to Sportsnet's

I watched the Canadiens-Oilers game last night on Sportsnet, and found the product less than ideal.  Here are some of what I perceived were the issues:
The Sportsnet broadcast team I was unfamiliar with, the onslaught of ads during the broadcast, during the action, with every line change having a sponsor, which had to be bloviated on by Gene Principe, usually running over the puck drop.  The tinny echo-ey classic schlock music in the arena, miked very loud, continuously during the timeouts.  The comparatively muted crowd noise.  The weird camera placement, which at Northlands are set up facing the penalty boxes instead of the players' benches.
For comparison's sake, I'm watching the condensed version of the game, a program that RDS calls "Canadiens Express", where they take the game and show an edited, one hour version.  And I have to say that RDS does a much, much better job than Sportsnet with the broadcast.

For starters, Pierre Houde and Marc Denis are unmatched as a broadcast team, no one in hockey is better.  You have to go to Al Michaels and Chris Collingsworth maybe, to find another team that works so brilliantly together, so effortlessly, the team being even better than the individual components, as great as they are.  The Sportsnet crew from last night wasn't bad, but Gene Principe kept barging in with his self-indulgent puns, they were heavy on the yuks and light on actual knowledge and info.

 The product placement is much more palatable.  The stats line which is shown when introducing the goalies has a carmaker logo contained in it, but it's not flashing and bouncing around.  It's actually integrated in the show, as opposed to clashing with it.

During the game, we could clearly hear the crowd noise, the "Let's go Oilers!" and "Go Habs Go!" chants, the oohs and ahs as the play went back and forth, it contributed to the excitement.  Conversely, during breaks in the action, the director turned down the arena mikes, so the screechy treble-y arena rock that grated on the ears on the Sportsnet broadcast wasn't omnipresent on RDS, just some innocuous background noise.

And am I dreaming, or is the camera work much better on RDS?  The placement is the same as with Sportsnet's, but it seems smoother, less jerky and confused.  I may be dreaming, but for me, the sign of good camera work is evident when watching a game by the fact that I don't notice it.  I see what I want to see and don't miss anything.  Sportsnet's work sometimes engender seasickness, but the RDS shots are silky smooth.

Again, it might just be confirmation bias, a case of me wanting the camera work to be better, and judging a shared camera feed as superior since it has the RDS logo on it, but that's the way it feels.

And how great is Pierre Houde?  In the first, he says "Là il y'a une mauvaise chute de Parenteau, mais l'arbitre a levé le bras.  On impute la responsabilité au défenseur des Oilers."

Translated:  "There is a bad fall by Parenteau, but the referee has raised his arm.  Responsibility is imputed to the Oilers' defenceman."

It's a joy to listen to him.  But now I have to make do with Paul Romanuk.  Thank you Gary Bettman.

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