USBC Barista Competition - Competitor Debriefing - Page 3

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
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another_jim
Team HB

#21: Post by another_jim »

Nick wrote: ...
Logistically, it's tricky. Let's see if the idea (for Long Beach 2007) takes hold for a closed-circuit feed of the USBC on monitors around the SCAA show floor... or at least, a monitor outside of the show-floor. That would provide a possible venue for a play-by-play to take place. We certainly couldn't have that happen right at the competition area ...
The camera work this year was a lot better than before. In previous years, it was boring to watch, since one had no clue how well everyone was doing. This year it was a lot easier, and I spent a lot more time watching. There's clearly a steep gradient of improvement happening in the presentation. I think bringing the show to the floor next year will be a big hit.
Jim Schulman

HAL9000

#22: Post by HAL9000 »

Nick wrote:Haha! The funny thing is, we've talked about this. A play-by-play. It's an idea that's been thrown around among WBC folks and USBC folks.
Hi Nick,

Please don't take this the wrong way, but I hope there's a lot of talk about this before someone tries it. Have you seen "Best in Show?" I imagine neither WBC or USBC would appreciate starring in Christopher Guest's next movie.

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Psyd

#23: Post by Psyd »

another_jim wrote:The camera work this year was a lot better than before. In previous years, it was boring to watch, since one had no clue how well everyone was doing.
Being both a barista and camera operator (amongst other production tech skills) I'd probably give you more interesting shots than someone who's skills lean more to camera work and not very much toward twisting portafilter handles. One solution to this issue is to have the technical crew let in on the joke. Invite them to the mock comps and show them what your looking for and at. Give a small class on pulling shots, letting them know what techniques are interesting and important. If they don't know Schomer from Schultz, they're not going to be focusing on what it is that makes that difference. (pun intended)
One of the biggest mistakes made in production today is the lack of liaison between the subject matter and the tech required to make production happen. I've seen beauty turned into schlock just because the left hand didn't know what the right was trying to get at.
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175

s_m_k

#24: Post by s_m_k »

HAL9000 wrote:Hi Nick,

Please don't take this the wrong way, but I hope there's a lot of talk about this before someone tries it. Have you seen "Best in Show?" I imagine neither WBC or USBC would appreciate starring in Christopher Guest's next movie.
I'd buy that DVD.

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another_jim
Team HB

#25: Post by another_jim »

Psyd wrote:Being both a barista and camera operator (amongst other production tech skills) I'd probably give you more interesting shots than someone who's skills lean more to camera work and not very much toward twisting portafilter handles. One solution to this issue is to have the technical crew let in on the joke. Invite them to the mock comps and show them what your looking for and at. Give a small class on pulling shots, letting them know what techniques are interesting and important. ...
I never thought of that; but it's obvious (now that you've said it). I guess this year, the camera crew had been briefed, since the screens showed roughly what the judges were scoring.
Jim Schulman

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Psyd

#26: Post by Psyd replying to another_jim »

It has been my experience on a number of shoots that I've worked. While shooting racing, quite a few of the cameramen got very tricky close-ups of parts of the car, and the drivers helmet. All of these shots required exceptional skill on the part of the operator, none of them showed what was happening in the race. The juxtaposition of two cars in a battle (or more, as the case may be) is far more important than aero detail close-ups. Same thing with shooting musicians. I have received kudos on far too many of this type of shoot over far more experienced camera operators, simply due to the fact that I was not only familiar with the subject mater, but was subjectively familiar. Shooting to inform and entertain a group of 'insiders' does not require an objective lens. Quite the contrary, it masks the information that most would find interesting. If the shooting is to be done for those that are not coffee insiders, then all bets are off of course.
Technician briefing is one thing, tech education is yet another. If time could be found in the schedule for the techs and the talent to spend a coupla hours just exchanging ideas, teaching camerafolk to make espresso, and putting judges and a few baristi behind the lens, the shared understanding of the others world will show itself in the end product. Dry documentary becomes interesting life story of an event.
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175

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HB
Admin

#27: Post by HB »

another_jim wrote:I guess this year, the camera crew had been briefed, since the screens showed roughly what the judges were scoring.
That's precisely what the organizers did after the first half-day at last fall's SERBC. Two cameramen were perched on the balcony level of the local theatre. I figured the angle and distance would render them useless, but after some coaching, they coordinated their coverage by radio headphones and caught key moments (e.g., close-ups of the initial pours, judges checking for crema consistency / foam depth / texture). Cindy Chang talked about editing it down for a DVD, but the real payoff was for the audience since the big screens captured details that were impossible to see from the stands.

Despite being right on stage, the USBC cameramen seemed less aware of what the action was about and captured less details than I expected based on the SERBC coverage. Maybe they would have been better off with fixed elevated positions instead of "roaming"?
Dan Kehn

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Psyd

#28: Post by Psyd »

HB wrote:Despite being right on stage, the USBC cameramen seemed less aware of what the action was about and captured less details than I expected based on the SERBC coverage. Maybe they would have been better off with fixed elevated positions instead of "roaming"?
I think it is still a matter of education rather than location. If I am shooting from one location, I have that angle as a choice, and that angle alone. If I am mobile, I can get anything at anytime from any angle, laws of physics and manners providing. In addition, cameramen are usually in touch with a 'technical director' who is speaking to them through their headsets and directing their shots. If the TD is out of touch with what needs to be seen, he may be rather protective in his ignorance, and micro-direct. If only one person on the crew has any barista experience (even if it is only an hour, and only an hour old) it should be the TD.
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175

Nick

#29: Post by Nick »

Funny y'all should mention...
It was the same A/V production company as last year (at both the USBC and WBC) in Seattle. At the beginning of the WBC last year, one of the guys recognized me as the emcee from the USBC a few weeks earlier, and they asked me how they should shoot the competition.

I happily replied, "I'm SO glad you asked me that! That's a GREAT question!"

Simply put: follow the coffee.

And that's what they did... and as Jim mentioned, they did even better in Charlotte.

A far cry from a mere three years ago, when the production company would switch to a full-screen USBC or WBC logo JUST at seemingly the most critical moments. Maddening. Made me want to tear apart the VHS tape.

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Psyd

#30: Post by Psyd »

Nick wrote:one of the guys recognized me as the emcee from the USBC a few weeks earlier, and they asked me how they should shoot the competition.

I happily replied, "I'm SO glad you asked me that! That's a GREAT question!"

Simply put: follow the coffee.
Smart operator, at least, looking for clues. I hope that you told him to follow the coffee in far more detail than that!
Maybe the liaison betwixt the two parties ought to be an artistic director. This person would sit in the control room (or at the tech table) giving the technical director an idea of what to shoot and what will be happening next. This is often done when there is an esoteric element in the content in addition to the aesthetic element. Perhaps someone with judging experience, who knows what the judges will be looking for, and can steer the camera operators in that direction. In this manner, the audience will be able to see the criteria that the judges are evaluating.
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175