A New Category

This post marks the first in my new category, “The Curmudgeon’s Corner”.

I’ve decided that all of my grouchy old man rants need a home. “Then, what are all of those other posts?” you might ask…

Football season is ending and for some reason I have been watching more professional football this year. Love the games, hate the talking heads.

Worse than the talking heads though, are the gratuitous graphics. It began years ago when the personal computer made the creation of graphics more accessible to the Gen X and Y folks. Of course, all of this creative horsepower was seldom paired with any kind of classical education in the arts. Now these folks are working at the networks.

Around the same time, along came MTV and TV really started to “move”. MTV created a whole new usage level of the jump cut. Calmness went away as short videos used dozens of jump cuts and other very rapid transitions.

As the Internet took hold, folks in the TV industry started talking about convergence. No one knew what it was but it sounded great and probably had at least some element of defending traditional TV against this Internet interloper. What convergence did do, was to confuse a passive medium, television with an interactive one, the Internet.

The computer folks saw a market and they created ever more powerful software and hardware to create CGI, computer generated imagery.

All of this has collected in one big trash heap on sports television. Fox football has some weird robot that is constantly jumping around the screen surrounded by other CGI effects. Every time CBS goes to instant replay, which is pretty much after every play, there is some kind of whooshing graphic. Yes, whooshing, the graphic twirls and there is a whooshing sound. Talk about running screaming into the night.

Have you seen what the “Are you ready for some football” intro piece has turned into? It’s unwatchable, nauseating even.

There are streaming score thingies. Promotions for other shows emerge in the middle of a game. Player pictures with statistics pop up all the time. The game score is up on the left of the screen, almost all of the time, underscoring that the network sports executives clearly think we dummies can’t keep track. Scores of other games pop up in the upper right. There are times when the screen is so full of this stuff that you really can’t see the field.

What you don’t see is a passive, visual medium delivering its message with well crafted images and well orchestrated movements.

To be fair, some CGI things are great. The electronic first down and scrimmage lines truly enhance the visual experience. Simple and effective.

The use of wire mounted cameras and other creative camera placements are great.

There is, however, almost never, just a visual presentation of the game on the screen. When did it become OK, visually that is, for these networks to keep their logo constantly on the screen? With the big screens available today you could almost feel like you were at the game except for that logo and, of course, if all of the other junk was turned off.

Don’t get me started on NASCAR broadcasts…

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