Camera work for MWR: Zoom OUT!!

It seems that FIRST video production crews just don’t get the message regarding camera coverage of FIRST matches: show the GAME!

The close-up views of robots may be visually pleasing, but it makes it impossible to follow the game and scout the teams.

I’m guessing that >90% of the viewers of the matches are FIRST team members that want to see the game. Who is scoring, who is playing defense, how many laps, …

This critical game information is lost when we see a single robot struggling to pick up a ball for 15 seconds.


I’ve been yelling at my computer since I started watching the first match.

The camera work is pretty awful. they spent a good 15 seconds zoomed in on the faces of the drivers a minute ago.

I long for 2001 and 2002 when there was the overhead cam looking directly down at the field to give you an overview of the action, with other shots interspersed.

On practice days the webcast is a static zoomed-out image of the practice field, and scouting is impossible anyway. Highly compressed 320x240 is simply not big enough to read team numbers or really tell what’s going on. You spend most of your time trying to deduce which teams are which numbers.

However, I’m just watching for entertainment. I’m sure if I wanted to see a specific robot (like I will when GTR is on in a month) I’d be irritated as well. I think the camera work is great if you’re watching to watch the match, not scout.

I’ve always said that teams would provide a fantastic service if they got a very good 1080p camera (you can get them for <$1200 now), recorded every single match with a full field, and distributed it afterwards. You’d be able to read all numbers and see all mechanisms. Scouting doesn’t need to be done live, so the lateness of it wouldn’t matter.

I think an overhead shot of the field would be super. Yes, it’s tough to track the robots in real time, but with the marvels of streaming capture, it’s possible to follow each robot throughout the match.

I certainly hope that as the season progresses, the coverage will improve. Yes, I’m saying it is not good now (and I don’t care if I get neg reps - I’ll take them for the tacticians in FIRST).

We want to show students how to scout teams and this kind of coverage makes this practically impossible.


Someone should tell the camera people whenever 16, 33, 71, 111, 1114, 1625, etc are on the field, all you do is focus on their robots.

In 1114’s first match I only could see their robot for about 10 seconds of the entire match.

This shouldn’t be that difficult. Don’t focus on a robot for more than 5 seconds unless it’s going really fast or shooting/hurdling the ball or something. Nobody wants to watch a team try to pick up a ball for 25 seconds.

I agree. But they also need just some broad shots of the field. When the cameraman is next to the robocoach area is a pretty decent shot.

Something to consider is that the video feed you see is also what is projected onto the jumboscreens at events. Specators don’t need another (probably smaller) view of the field directly above where the field already is. It would be nice if the webcast could present a different camera view than that, but it is already wonderful that the production crews tolerate letting random high school kids behind the scenes to setup laptops and broadcast everything.

That being said, I know at Boston 2007 the SOAP webcast was getting 4 separate video feeds from the production crew, three of which were raw from the cameras. They were then overlaying their own display (iirc, without a realtime score display) on top of that, and switching between the 4 feeds they had when it didn’t make sense to use the arena one.

I agree with you all 100%, but there is something that you have realize too. Most of the time video production companies record the video for stock footage(for promo videos,for FIRST…ect.), and its easer to just record one out put off the cameras then to record the different camera separate. You could say that they could use two different outputs but that means more people to man and more time setting up, and other reasons. Although this might not apply for the competitions its just food for thought.

This is a repeating incident every year, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it really improve. This is why our team started recording our own matches for AZ, so that we could actually see the matches when we wanted to look at them again later.