Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Keep the Pan Shot, But Give Us a Better One

Yesterday the pan shot took a drubbing at the simulcast conference. Patrick Cummings of Trakus said

"They're [racings pictures] all the same–every single one of them," Cummings said. "This is not the way we consume other things in our lives. Is the pan shot the best way to look at horse racing? We should recognize how it is we consume our product. "Are we capturing the race in the best possible light? Is the industry doing the best it can to captivate the audience?"

I like Pat and for major TV horse racing events a lot of these ideas make sense. In all parts of the world racing is covered in a much more exciting and vibrant fashion. It certainly could look better.

However for bettors (and if you believe that in-running betting is coming at some point), the pan shot kicks ass. Plain and simple.

But is the pan shot perfect? Not by a longshot.

We've all watched a race at Saratoga or Kentucky Downs. On the far turn we might as well be looking at ants from the top of the mountain. Unless you've been following your bet from the beginning, or have a handy program in front of you with colors, you can be completely lost. And that's for us, those who have been watching racing for decades and decades. What about newer people? It must be difficult.

Trakus recently has experimented in some areas by highlighting the favorite in the chicklets, and I think this is pretty cool and makes perfect sense. The most money is bet on the favorite, so we might as well give the most people an easy way to see where the horse is. Even if you bet a longshot and he's near the lead, if you see the highlighted chicklet coming, you know a good horse is coming after you.

On network television for the Derby, look at the screenshot above. Isn't it so much easier to know what's happening when they use the "bubble" with the horses name over top? I can't pick Orb out of that picture if you paid me.

Is there a way to do this in every day racing? Your guess is as good as mine. But that's one thing I'd love to see, for say the top four choices.

We all agree that the pan shot is one we all need as bettors. I wonder if we need to focus on improving it, instead of adding cameras in every nook and cranny of the racetrack. What do you think?


Pat Cummings said...

Hey gang,

Thanks for recognizing the nuance in the presentation. It wasn't a suggestion "get rid of the pan" at all costs and cast it to the trash heap, but rather suggestions to find a way to bring greater clarity to the race viewing experience, something which almost every other jurisdiction worldwide does Unfortunately, the nuance from the presentation gets lost.

The screengrab used here is telling. One the most viewed broadcast of the year, in sloppy conditions, WITH HD, and plenty of camera cuts, I estimate you can really identify a few horses with clarity about 25-30% of the race. That is bad for bettors, bad for newbies, and bad for the sport. And, in an effort to catch every horse in the frame, many times the pan shot becomes so unintelligible that it is relatively useless.

Could tracks retain the pan and post it online as well? Certainly. Again, the suggestions are designed to challenge the industry to reflect on whether or not we can present live action of the sport in the most engaging fashion.

Contrary to some other site comments I've seen about the speech, I bet, and have since I was 18. I love the game, and I believe the status quo is stagnant in an era of technological advances.

HANA said...

Your presentation was top-notch Pat and ao lot of us learned something.

You are offering a new way, and that should never be discounted. We all agree things can certainly be improved.

Thanks for the comment.


Tinky said...

"... in an effort to catch every horse in the frame, many times the pan shot becomes so unintelligible that it is relatively useless."

Sorry Pat, but that is a ridiculous assertion.

Yes, I am one who slammed you hard on Paulick's site, and for good reason. You claim to be a long-standing bettor, which I'll accept at face value. But to the vast majority of those who actually bet seriously, it would be inconceivable to do so without the benefit of a basic pan shot.

Back to your aforementioned quote, on what possible basis do you make that claim? Under all but the very poorest (i.e. exceedingly rare) conditions, any serious observer can both follow the action and glean crucial insights from the pan shot.

As I pointed out repeatedly on the Paulick thread, there literally is no substitute for a pan shot that can reveal the flow of a race.

As I have said before, I am all for the industry breaking out of anachronistic habits, but marginalizing the pan shot would be extraordinarily counter-productive.