Drone camera angle and helmet camera take center stage in league debut

The latest attempt at a professional spring football league began in earnest on Saturday night as the USFL began its inaugural season.

With so many attempts to carve out a slice of the football market in an era when it faces no competition from the college or the NFL – namely the AAF, the XFL (which folded in its first season due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and fancier leagues like the currently active fan-controlled Football League – it’s important to stand out.

A new addition to the formula that many fans were talking about during the debut was the new drone camera angles, which worked both between and, in some cases, during plays.

Now, the consensus opinion here seems to be unfavorable, and I can definitely see why. Undoubtedly, it could be smoother. However, as someone who’s honestly a little tired of the conventional sideline broadcast angle, I’m still open to iterations on the status quo.

The main problem with the standard angle, in my opinion, is the fact that it is basically impossible to follow both the ball and what is happening on the field when passing. It is for this reason that I would be interested in networks experimenting with the elevated angle behind the line of scrimmage that is used in the 22 sequences.

Maybe I played too much mad in my life, but I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out on some of the action when I watch a live football broadcast.

The development of wired cameras that operate on four axes in recent years has enabled a whole new level of cinematic creativity, but even these are more restrictive than drones. I think drone technology absolutely has a future in improving the sports viewing experience.

That being said, there are definitely execution issues here, and it can be too jarring to use midgame. I’m more of a fan of its use in mood hits though, like when players break the huddle.

However, not all attempts at innovation are good, and the other novelty introduced by the league is less promising: the helmet camera.

Look, it’s cool to see things the way players do. It allows fans to get a whole different perspective on the game they love. But as interesting as that may be, it’s even more nauseating.

Simply not.

I think drones could have more use, though, and while they’re a bit polarizing and certainly rough around the edges, trying to improve the viewing experience (especially with in-person fan attendance that declining year on year) is a commendable effort.

And for a league like the USFL, there’s nothing to lose by trying to do just that.

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