November 27, 2010

Cricinfo

The bigger picture

Sambit Bal
A screenshot of ESPNcricinfo's Video and Audio homepage
Our Video and Audio homepage  © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
Enlarge

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

RSS Feeds: Sambit Bal

Keywords: ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Akram on (June 30, 2012, 3:52 GMT)

Please remember that you are now leglaly obliged to refer to your employers as ESPN Cricinfo. Andy Zaltzman must be ecstatic that he can now have his first five day holiday from satire in three years.The ultimate goal for the Champions Trophy is when the eight teams are encouraged to play the tournament on a massive cruise ship where Marco Pierre White runs the restaurant.

Posted by Caroline on (June 27, 2012, 12:18 GMT)

Yes, COI issue is a minor one to your article but as reardgs CI & COI, Kartikeya's post only cited Harsha but then i wonder under what criteria can it be held as COI. I agree on your opinion of financial relationship. But this wouldn't apply to commentators who have a financial relationship with a TV Channel and their duties include commenting on IPL or CLT20, right ? For example, will Harsha writing on IPL fall under this category ? He does not have a financial relationship with IPL but with SET-MAX and his duties / work include commenting on the IPL. I have put similar points on a long winded debate with Kartikeya on his follow-up blog over the COI issue and i am not sure how this can be demanded of a writer i.e, to disclose the nature of his work too. I don't understand well what COI means for writers but hope some of you can throw better light on it. For Ravi Shastri or Sunny writing on BCCI, it is clear what they have to disclose but with many other writers, the line is very blurred.

Posted by Hemant Nayak, Naperville,IL on (December 28, 2010, 17:48 GMT)

Sachin never comes thru' when he SHOULD make a difference to Indian fortune in DIFFICULT match conditions like Durban where its loaded for the bowlers.Despite 50 100s I vcant think of 5, hell make it 1, occasion when he's seen India thru'as a solo show. His show of defiance is when the match is kinda lost or hopeless!! How many man of the natches in tests? less than 10 in 170 tests. He aint got the stuff to hang tough in tough batting conditions. Dravid used to have it(2006 Jamaica..). But VVS he keeps doin' it every single day.. He is the greatest Indian test batter in adversity. Rest ia all numbers

Posted by saurabh on (December 20, 2010, 5:12 GMT)

Hi,

I agree with Rahul and Afzaal, I prefer reading as compared to watching on cricinfo. Mostly Watching is a passive exercise made dumber by the millions of hours spent watching content on TV, while reading is and always be an active exercise, so it draws the reader into the article.

So please do increase the reading content even if you want to include more videos.

Cheers, Saurabh

Posted by Rahul on (November 29, 2010, 5:38 GMT)

Videos are ok for Television. But as a cricket afici0nado, i come to cricinfo for live cricket scores, analysis, opinions and anecdotes. The good thing about internet is that it has the power of permanence. The other good thing about internet is that you are not bound by any time limits. You can go through the content at your own will, at your own time and taking your own breaks and intervals. I would still go for the written material as it gives me freedom. I don’t disturb anybody if I read something. Not to mention various applications and accessories required for videos and audios. Kapil Dev has been my childhood hero. But I can’t watch/listen to his interview because i spend 10 hours at office and 3 hours for traveling. that leaves very less time at home which i cannot spend on cricinfo. Obviously at office my computer is limited by company's policies as to what can be installed and downloaded. Also the videos would attract attention. My request is that please post transcripts.

Posted by afzaal on (November 27, 2010, 18:58 GMT)

call me old fashioned and though i do recognize the power and need of video, I really like to read. This why i come to this site. Written words allows reflection which video don't. Plz donot quit writting. I cherish the written words of editors. Thanks

Comments have now been closed for this article

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sambit Bal
Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.

All articles by this writer