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NBA Games Are Harder Than Ever To Watch

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  • NBA

The 2020-2021 NBA season hasn't been as fulfilling as I had hoped. It's not just because my beloved Boston Celtics aren't doing as well as hoped. It's because of the in-game camera work. I noticed things started getting weird last season during the playoffs. And it's gotten weirder and weirder since then.


Traditional Camera Angle

Here's an example of the classic camera angle that has always worked well. You can generally see all five players on each team, frequently from head to toe. The entirety of the half-court is visible. Even Grant Williams, waiting patiently in the lower left for an open "corner three" is fully visible. This works. It is perfection.


Low Camera Angles

I think ABC and/or ESPN is to blame for this. With the low camera angle that seems to be en vogue, there is still some elevation--the camera isn't ground-level. But it's significantly lower than the camera height of the traditional angle. Players that are far apart can seem bunched up. Three players for the Wizards (labeled 1, 2, 3) look like a pile of bodies. Note that two of them are on opposite sides of the lane, which is 16 feet wide. Aaron Nesmith for the Celtics (labeled 4) might be mistaken for a bench player standing up from the bench.

NBA Camera Angles - Too Low

Here's another example. Again we see multiple players standing significantly apart (players 2 and 3 for Washington). One of them is badly obscurred by the other. Making matters worse, the fifth Celtic can't even be seen. What you can't tell from this camera angle is that Carsen Edwards is standing behind the three-point line near the baseline. This looks like five on four. It is inexscusable.

NBA Camera Angles - Too Low

The low camera angle stinks in the half court. And it stinks when teams are in transition too. Here you can only see two players from each team.

NBA Camera Angles - Too Low

Other Strange Angles

It's not just the low camera angle. There are other questionable choices with the camera work. Here's what was shown when Grant Williams inbounded the ball from the sideline from the front court. You can only see part of the court, several players are off camera, and you can't see the basket at all.

NBA Camera Angles - Inbound

This is essentially the same thing, but with a birds-eye view. You still can't see all of the players or the basket.

NBA Camera Angles - Inbound

Who is Semi Ojeleye inbounding the ball to?

NBA Camera Angles - Inbound

Here we get an odd camera angle for a jump ball. That's 7' 6" Tacko Fall (one of the 40 tallest people in the world) for Boston and 6' 6" Troy Brown Jr. for Washington. They look the same size.

NBA Camera Angles - Jump Ball

This is another bad angle. Pop-quiz: who is shooting this free throw?

NBA Camera Angles - Free Throw

There's an abundance of bad camera angles for free throws. I counted around ten in the game where these images are from. It's too much.


Closing Thoughts

If I had the ear of those responsible, I'd want them to know they're trying too hard. I'd ask them to take to heart the old addage KISS: keep it simple, stupid. Stick with the traditional camera angles.

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