Monday, November 10, 2008

Cut the Popcorn Shots! An Open Plea Re: Cup of China Video Coverage

Calling all directors from the world feed of this past weekend’s Cup of China…
(Not to mention the producers that may have forced them to do as they did…)

After watching the coverage on, I’ve a few favors to ask of you.

+ Please remember that, as gorgeous as the skaters’ faces might be, it’s their performance we’re tuning in to see. When they’re doing footwork, it helps to see the feet. When they’re hitting key, story-telling poses in their program, it helps to see the pose. See how that works? This wasn’t the Cup of China Beauty Pageant, after all.

+ Please don’t do paint-by-numbers directing: show the head-and-shoulder shot here… dissolve to a brief shot of the feet there… dissolve to a full body shot by the third bar of the music… and so on. What works for Sunday morning public affairs shows does NOT work for figure skating. The athletes out there are having a hard enough time these days trying to get all the elements in without turning in cookie-cutter routines. Don’t do a disservice to them—and the viewers—with a cookie-cutter approach. They work too hard … and we appreciate them too much... for that treatment.

+ Please, please stay away from a) rafter shots, and b) audience shots. Or at least don’t use them so liberally. Rafter shots (those mile-high shots that make the skater seem microscopic on TV) might be pretty, but they suck away an awful lot of the sport’s athleticism. Oh that looked nice; did she do a triple/triple just then? Who can tell on a shot like that? And the audience shots—when did they become more important than the skaters? I was eager to see the initial reaction on Jeremy Abbott’s face after just turning in the best performance of his GP career to date… but guess what I saw instead? That’s right, at least TWO different pans of the crowd clapping and eating popcorn. By the time you got back to Abbott, he was taking his bows. And of course, thanks to the aforementioned paint-by-numbers approach, we saw “popcorn shots” time and time again as soon as a skater was done. Shame, shame, shame on whoever thought this was a good idea.

+ And finally: please, please, PLEASE stop showing us things like Stella the Squirrel (See above image-- no offense to Stella; I’m just trying to prove a point)

Stuffed animals are cute, we know. Skaters get them by the truckload—we know that too. But just as GP events are not about the crowds, they aren’t about the toys either. So we don’t need to see them sitting idle on the ice. Or sitting idle alongside a skater in the kiss’n’cry. Or wiggling around adorably in a skater’s lap while they await their scores. Once or twice per competition? Fine. But when you do it more often than you DON’T do it… that’s a problem. CUT IT OUT.

Thanks for your time, and with any luck at all, we’ll see a whole different approach (and production team) running the show at Trophee Eric Bompard in a few days.

For the
Clip of the Day , here is the Ashley Wagner FS I mentioned yesterday. Many thanks to tiamatsrevenge for pointing me to it!


Laura said...


I hope they all read your blog!

Aaron said...

You know, CCTV (that's who provided the video for Cup of China... has a bad habit of this. I wonder if what their showing are the types of things Chinese audiences want to see?

Kelli Lawrence said...

Yeah... and I hope I'm not being insensitive to the wants & needs of other audiences by my kvetching...

Mostly it comes from my own background as a producer/director. My work in sports was very limited, and nothing of this caliber... but I know how I'd do it, and this just wasn't it.