Friday, February 20, 2009

Sometimes You're The Windshield and Sometimes You're The Bug.....

ID-ing Boonen (blue) and Cavendish (yellow) after leadout man pulls off using AKI PAINT.

Tracking Boonen and Cavendish with the AKI PAINT tracking bubble.

Greetings from Solvang, one of the strangest places I've seen inside the US. As I stated in a previous post, Solvang is a Danish community in the middle of rural California. It's all about Denmark. Charming, but weird.

In Paso Robles today, I chalked up a nice "W" in the win column, but I also screwed the pooch all by myself at the very end of the day. Nobody's fault but mine.

First, the good. I represent AKISPORT in the US. It's a Czech company which makes some insanely cool broadcast tools, the best I've ever seen. Those guys are great programmers and they "eat their own cooking" (do events with the products they develop), which is the most important thing in this business, as far as I'm concerned.

I brought an AKI PAINT system here to show to the VERSUS guys. It's a really cool virtual graphics tool, kind of a virtual telestrator on steroids. I demoed it to Producer and to Executive Producer before the Tour started, and they seemed vaguely interested, but there were so many problems with the weather and with general chaos that it has gone more or less unused. This morning, Producer walked into the truck first thing and said "OK, I've got a few minutes and an idea, let's see what thing thing can do". We ended up putting together a very interesting clip of the previous day's sprint involving Tom Boonen, Mark Cavendish, and Cavendish's leadout man. I telestrated the leadout man pulling off, then I telestrated Boonen slipping in behind Cavendish, and then I used PAINT's tracking magnification bubble to track the two of them as Boonen closed in and just missed pipping Cavendish on the line. Paul Sherwin did a nice voice-over, and VERSUS led their broadcast with it.

Very cool. Very informative. And.....the first time AKI PAINT has been used on US TV. A feather in the caps of Tomas, Marek, David, and the rest of the guys over in Brno.

But I screwed up on the RADAR.

I've come to the conclusion that the RADAR is fun but really isn't very well suited to bike racing. It's a fun toy, but it's a bit of a mixed bag. It's certainly not as suited to bike racing as it is to ski racing. In ski racing, you either get the skier, or you get nothing. With enough tinkering, you can get the skier every single time. In bike racing, there are so many riders and race vehicles and motos and so muc hchaos out on the course that you get all sorts of wild bouncing of the needle as the decoder jumps from object to object, struggling to acquire targets. And because the race vehicles are barely ahead of the actual riders, there is only a very tiny time window in which to get valid readings.

For the past two days, I left the graphic up in preview, and Director switched it in when he thought it was relevant, which worked fairly OK, but I wasn't entirely happy with the timing. So today I attempted to do it myself, and I goat-fucked it right up my own ass, with a hot poker. Director left my CG switched in "hot" and I was supposed to animate the RADAR graphic on at exactly the right moment.

I missed. Badly. I almost missed the sprint completely.

After the race, the guy who operates Camera 8, which is the final camera before the finish, told us a security guy had made him move from his regular position just a few seconds before the riders came through. That was an unusual move from a power-drunk security dickhead, and the camerman was pissed. Director was pissed too. The change of perspective confused me, and as a result, I animated on the RADAR way too late. The peak speed was 40.1 MPH, but I might have missed the peak speed by being so late. Cavendish won easily, so perhaps he wasn't going that hard, but he had a tailwind, so he might have been faster than that.

It was pretty obvious that I blew it. After everybody took a bathroom break following the interviews, we re-assembled in the truck. Producer asked me "what happened?". I simply told the truth. I said "Simple explanation. I fucked it up". He laughed. It had been a pretty good day otherwise, so I don't think anybody was too upset about it, except for me.

Oh well. Can't win 'em all.

I'm really exhausted from all the travel, and I need to be at my best for the TT tomorrow here in Solvang. I really could use a good night's sleep so I can pay closer attention tomorrow.

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