“By immersing the spectator, we risk drowning him”

“The realization is bad. “ By pronouncing these words, Saturday, November 7, on Canal +, the commentator of the PSG-Rennes football match Stéphane Guy was not targeting Laurent Lachand, director of the match, but a player who had poorly adjusted his pass. However, at the same time, social networks were unleashed against an innovation of the chain.

Many spectators expressed, in less chosen terms, the feeling of nausea caused by the new Air Cam, launched for the occasion. This camera, which travels on a cable sideways to the field, enables tracking shots that accompany the movement of the teams.

The virtues of the wide shot

Let’s not see a detail. This shot replaces the traditional wide shot, which remains the master shot for making matches, taken from a fixed camera in the axis of the field. By rotating, it pans, while the Air Cam mixes traveling and panning.

This mixture confuses the viewer, not only because it disrupts his habits: the simultaneity of the two movements makes the frame rock and gives a little seasickness. But it is perhaps only a question of acclimatization and the idea is a priori interesting.

We can at least congratulate ourselves that it is not the “Tracking shot worthy of action cinema” announced by Canal +. Already, we are closer to video games than to cinema, this way of “filming” being practiced in football simulations.

Above all, it remains a wide shot, overhanging, which allows you to better understand the game and the possibilities offered to the players thanks to an overview of the positions of the teams. However, the Air Cam allows you to get closer to the action and better frame it.

The angle of view is less open and the work of the cameraman is made more complex – some hiccups attest to this. If we can lose a little visibility on certain types of action, the solution can be generally positive with a few adjustments.

The baroque school of French achievement

Has the Air Cam improved the achievement of PSG-Rennes? In fact, she didn’t change much, being the only thing that changed. It is not because of her that we missed, for example, the call of Angel Di Maria on his second goal and the departure of a long shot from Leandro Paredes, but because the director preferred show close-ups of the players.

Air Cam or not, the encounters remain punctuated by a multitude of cutaways, in particular on the players carrying the ball – a process that has become a ritual although it has no informative interest. Directors no longer hesitate to miss replay and moments when the ball is alive, preferring to launch bursts of slow motion or parasitic shots.

The French directors have made school with a baroque style which holds world records for the number of shots and slow motion. Any sports broadcast is a staging, but these biases end up harming the understanding of the game, in particular its tactical reading.

Ensure “A more dynamic game vision”, as Laurent Lachand puts it, suggests that we inject an external dynamic into the game. And when he says he seeks to “Enrich the spectator experience” or to “Continually find immersive points of view”, one wonders: does he not take the risk of force-feeding or drowning the spectator?

Enhancement of the game or visual doping

“The evolutions which remain are those which are at the service of the game. The gadgets, they disappear”, continues the director. But the televised matches are more and more full of incrustations of statistics, virtual animations and other bonuses which come to be grafted on an already stroboscopic film, riddled with shots without informative value.

We see more bidding than research, more visual doping than enhancement of the game, which is replaced by an increasingly intrusive derivative show, which anticipates the “augmented football” promised by new technologies.

Current circumstances favor these experiments. Canal + seeks to demonstrate its technical superiority, to compensate for the lack of atmosphere due to closed doors, even to take advantage of the moment: “The installation is very complex. So the crisis is, in misfortune, a good opportunity to tempt it ”, concedes Lachand.

It remains for the channels to offer an innovation that current technologies completely allow: a separate channel on which the production would take the side of sobriety for the benefit of viewers prone to seasickness or, simply, who prefer the game to its spectacularization. artificial.


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