Wednesday, July 9, 2014

NBA Videos and Highlights

I was searching for Summer League highlights when I came across a YouTube account that rattled me to my very soul. It's called "NBA Videos and Highlights." It's a depository of content but it's all wrong.

The quality is terrible, of course. But there are hundreds of YouTube accounts that re-purpose commercially produced video at a shitty resolution. It's the way the image wanders from the middle of the screen, giving you a sense of the videographer.

The best I can figure, this person is using a very very old camera that shoots 144p, and holding the camera in front of his computer screen to capture and upload these videos. Sometimes, you can see him move the camera to focus on the part of the screen But then why do they sound okay? Does his camera have a little microphone input that he connects to his computer? Does this horrible camera have a weirdly excellent microphone? Is he taking the audio from these videos separately from the video and mixing them together in an editing program? 

Take in our man's re-purposing of this officially produced highlight mix. Tim Duncan, Hall of Fame basketball player, the Lion in Winter. He's there right in front of you, maybe? You can recognize him a little. But what is he doing? The announcer says there's a block on Chris Bosh and you have a vague sense of the two men colliding. When you watch a highlight mix you're watching what was once live footage being captured at a real life event. The new context that "NBA Videos and Highlights" brings makes you all aware of the distance that was always there. Tim Ducncan is playing basketball and a camera is capturing this and a man captures that video and condenses it into highlights and those highlights go into into the eye of NBA Videos and Highlights's camera and onto the internet and into your eyes. When does it REALLY lost all of the context necessary to truly understand what's happening? When NBA Videos and Highlights's terrible camera shoots it? When the broader game is condensed into highlights? When the camera captures Duncan in the first place? When anyone stands outside of Tim Duncan himself, watching him play basketball, be it in person or on  television? Does Tim Duncan himself even understand? 

When Tim Duncan dies radio waves containing his highlights will still be moving through space at the speed of light until the universe collapses. Tim Duncan's flesh is rotting in the ground but he lives forever an electric ghost in space.

The video looks terrible, but the audio sounds fine. When we consume basketball, we think we're "Watching the game." That's true, to a degree but we're also being inundated with rhetoric that's easier to understand than anything happening on the court. 80% of the time it takes me several viewings of a play that resulted in a wide open dunk to understand what mistakes a defense made or next level play someone on the offense made to make that dunk happen. But when a Summer League game features Isiah Thomas mouthing off about toughness and shit ("Clear Path Fouls should be Legal," says ex-ballplayer, real-ass tough guy) that's all immediately accessible to me. There's been a ton of talk/complaining about the silliness of free agency madness. The out-of-season "Lebron to Cavs would make the Cavs a lot better" is an easier concept to grasp than the in-season's "Lebron's ability to read cuts creates open looks at the rim off of high pick and roll action." The game is obscure and blurry but the talk is clear as a bell.

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