Thursday, August 23, 2012

TV live show editing

Watch this comedy routine by Abbott and Costello performing their famous "Who's on first" sketch. Watch it fully and then come back, as I have a couple of questions to ask about it.

Question 1: How many times did they show the audience?

Answer: Zero times.

Question 2: How much did it bother you that they didn't?

If you are a normal person, I am pretty sure that you didn't even notice this until I drew attention that fact. It certainly did not bother you at all.

If this were being televised today as a live show, at least 50% of the footage would be showing the audience reactions. This is something that bothers me to no end in today's TV show editing.

If I'm watching some performers doing an act (be it comedy, magic, juggling or whatever), I want to see the performers. Why would I want to see the audience? What possible interest would I have in that?

Of course it's not the act of showing the audience itself that's so bad. It's the fact that I do not get to see the performer while the audience is being shown, and in fact the performance is being constantly interrupted, which is really, really annoying.

Most performers have practiced their routines over and over in order to make an enjoyable viewing experience for their audiences. Everything they do is to entertain the audience. (It would be quite catastrophical if the audience got bored.) Hence every single thing they do, from beginning to end, is for the benefit of the audience. Every single thing they do is highly rehearsed and trained to be as interesting and enjoyable as possible.

And then TV directors butcher this highly polished act into bits and pieces, censoring half of it, completely destroying it. In the worst cases I have seen they show the audience even more than the performance itself, even in the middle of a routine. (This is especially annoying with performances that are long and continuous, without pauses, such as juggling.)

In fact, this practice bothers me so much that whenever I see eg. a YouTube clip or whatever of a TV show where there's this kind of editing, I just stop watching it. I simply can't stand it.

Why do they do this? Don't they understand that they are destroying the performance and annoying the viewers? Yet they keep doing this over and over, and have been doing this for decades, as if it was some kind of good live TV editing.

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