Cricinfo November 27, 2010

The bigger picture

I am sure you haven't failed to notice the steady increase in video content on the site. We are committed to exploiting the inclusiveness of our medium and present to our readers any additional options for consuming our content

I am sure you haven't failed to notice the steady increase in video content on the site. While it hasn't changed our faith in the invincibility and timelessness of the written word, we are also committed to exploiting the inclusiveness of our medium and present to our readers any additional options for consuming our content. Ian Chappell is still doing the same match analysis for us from the Ashes, but it's now on video; which makes it a richer experience.

But of course, video brings huge challenges. To start with it costs much more and is far more time-consuming. And then, on a professional level, it brings challenges in terms of skill. In addition to writing his daily pieces, Andrew Miller, our UK editor, has taken it upon himself to record Chappell, who has been wonderfully patient and accommodating as always, and upload the raw file, which can consume an hour, or even more.

And recently we sent off senior editor Sharda Urga, who joined us earlier this year after more than 20 years in print, to interview Kapil Dev on video, and she came back wiser. I'll let her relate her experiences:

"For print, you do some homework, scribble down a series of questions, check if you have new batteries and tapes [it's what the pre-digital generation does] at your command, test them for 30 seconds and then go and wait where you are supposed to. Hopefully the star turns up, is in a good mood, talks for ages and tells you his deepest secrets.

"After transcription, you arrange the questions in whichever order makes them [and you] look intelligent. Often you can even reinvent the question so that it suits the answer. [Sometimes the fast bowler really doesn't want to offer an existential answer about his soul, and talks about his soles instead.]

"Television is a different biscuit altogether. No, actually, it's a different grain. What it involves is inches and angles that exist outside the print journalist's concerns and questions. It involves audio-visual machines. More gadgetry! Each of which had better be right or the alternative reality includes cantankerous cameramen and peeved producers. Is the lighting right or are lights needed? [They are two different things]. How about the sound? Would someone leaping into a swimming pool 20 feet away ruin the track?

"All you must do is keep quiet (until someone says, "rolling") and focus. Make sure the questions are in correct sequence, no leaping back and forth with various topics. Club them together logically (print people don't do logic or sequence, but the video business doesn't care). This is so that they can be edited quickly, cut correctly, uploaded/ broadcast seamlessly.

"Speak in prose. No um-ming, er-ing, ah-ing. No matter how smart your rejoinder or supplementary question may be, no interrupting the subject. Never. He/she must first finish the answer and full-stop it before you are permitted to open your mouth. Abandon your ego and get used to doing "noddies". Which is to sit in front of the camera after the interviewee has left and nod your head. It's to fill in the visual gaps. To help the guy who will be cutting the interview. Oh, and please don't ask dumb questions."

And you thought journos thought they knew everything.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

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