This Sunday I got back behind the video camera for my first live-streamed sports event since this past basketball season and my first softball game ever.
I’ve been live streaming — a live video feed of an event on our Web site — sporting events for about a year, doing mostly football and basketball games. When Gannett started up the whole live stream thing it was encouraged to do some sort of announcing. I had yet to give it a shot because one, both those sports move really fast and two, have a ton of people possibly involved on each play. For someone running a camera and making sure a webcast isn’t crashing, it can be hard to accurately track names well enough for a running commentary (especially when it rains during football, which destroys all rosters).
I had tried to set up something with a local radio station, but those efforts fell through, so until Sunday we had been running just straight nat sound with a lower-third and scoreboard shot the only real story-telling techniques available.
But Sunday was the ASA 10B Western National Softball Championship. Not only was it a slower game with only two real players in each play, but it was 10 year olds, a group without as much speed as some others. I figured if I was ever going to pop my announcing cherry, this was the time.
I duct-tapped a roster on to my tripod, set up behind the center field wall, mic’d myself up and hoped for the best.
I remember one of the local announcers describing radio announcing as talking to yourself for three hours. Having video helps fill in the dead time, but I had no idea what I was going to say or what my style was going to be.
The game started and quickly I realized that not only was it going to be a pain to keep a score book while operating the camera, the scoreboard operators were going to be updating the lights when they felt motivated and no sooner. So while I was monitoring audio levels, Internet connection, white balance and a million other things, I’d be tallying not only balls and strikes but outs and even runs in my head. I’m proud to say that only once did an inning end after I said there were only two outs.
I stuck to the basics, giving updates on what people couldn’t see, mainly outs and runners on. I announced that you were watching “the ASA 10B Fast Pitch Western Nationals from Wallace Marine Park in West Salem, Oregon” about 1,700 times in the little over one hour and 40 minutes I was on the air (which I technically was since my Internet was aircard).
I had a little background on the players from covering the tournament for print the day before. One team’s pitcher had already thrown a perfect game, one had a player stay home because she was diagnosed with breast cancer and all had been dealing with this monstrous heat wave that had ripped through Salem.
While that filled up a little time there was still plenty of dead air. There was also silence as I searched for names or during complicated plays where I couldn’t remember off the top of my head who was running around the bases as I made sure to frame the whole thing on my viewfinder.
Overall I thought the experience was fun. I have yet to listen to it as I’m scared to death of the sound of my own voice so I have no idea yet whether it was worth it. I know there is almost no way I could do it for football or basketball, but know I’m at least entertaining the possibility.