Posted by JC on August 31st, 2009
Dear TV reporters, sports commentators and presenters,
I want to let you into a little-known secret: that thing you’ve got pinned to your lapel or clutched in your hand – that’s what we call a microphone. A microphone is a magical device for picking up sound, and the sound it picks up best is the sound that is closest to it – your voice.
So even if you’re surrounded by roaring crowds, or the camera is across the road, YOU DON’T NEED TO SHOUT, because your microphone is only centimetres away from your mouth.
It is bizarre to witness people who appear to be right in front of you yelling their heads off. Bizarre, annoying, unprofessional and totally unnecessary. It’s even weirder when it’s interspersed with voice-over commentary at a normal level.
There are rules for the voice level you use to camera. If you’re in close-up it’s intimate, if it’s in medium-close-up (that’s the shot most commonly used in interviews) or mid-shot (to the waist) it’s conversational. A little more voice is appropriate in a full shot. Only in long-shot, when the presenter is shown at a distance, should you ever use full projection (which is quite a different thing from shouting, petals!).
However, it would appear that our TV networks have never bothered to teach their on-camera people how to use a microphone.
Deafened by the audience racket around them, netball commentators howl at us, oblivious to the fact that the miracle of sound engineering means we can hear them perfectly well at normal level.
Back Benches presenter Wallace Chapman bellows like a livestock auctioneer whether he’s talking to the camera, the pub audience or his guests. Even if this programme weren’t hopelessly amateurish, I couldn’t watch it for more than five minutes.
News reporters don’t do themselves any favours by choosing to present their reports in busy streets. There’s usually an alternative, but even if there isn’t, the same rule applies: Pitch your voice to the camera shot, not to the camera.
Brooke Howard-Smith – you are excused. Yes, it still gets on my nerves when you shout, but eccentric talent should always be encouraged. Just hand me the ear-plugs, please.
And the rest of you: please learn the basics of presentation – and STOP SHOUTING AT ME!!
It’s not surprising really as most of the sports commentators haven’t figured out that it’s not radio and a camera is allowing us to see what is happening.
They don’t need to tell, or shout, me what I’m seeing but do need to inform me about what I’m not. I think it’s why some of the better commentary comes from ex-participants, well the few who have some media savvy.
For example in my favourite sport Formula 1 the commentator will say “the Ferrari just passed the Force India into the first turn” which is true but I saw that myself. The ex-driver commentator will say “The Ferrari got past the Force India because it’s on soft tyres which recover temperature, grip, faster than the harder ones.”
That adds to the visual and my experience of the sport. For me, that is what makes a good TV commentary.
Maybe there’s another reason for them doing this – maybe they think you arent listening!!!
Duncan Garner. Worst shouter ever! I have to turn the volume down every time he appears.
I agree about Duncan and I think he’s getting worse. A couple of nights ago on the news he was even shouting his voice-overs!