Ah, the ref cam. One of the things from Pride that wasn’t brought over into a UFC broadcast.
The ref cam was supposed to make a return last Saturday at UFC on Fox 4, but alas, it did not.
“We didn’t use it tonight,” Craig Borsari told UFC President Dana White following the post-event news conference. “They never put it in the live telecast. There were some good looks, but not good enough to put in the live telecast. We’re going to keep making tweaks.”
Of course, it was only it’s debut seeing as the UFC had never before used the ref cam, so it is only fitting to make the necessary tweaks if the footage that was produced wasn’t suited for the telecast.
The production crew will need to make those tweaks, though, as otherwise the ref cam doesn’t seem necessary. The UFC already produces some great quality shots of the finishes inside the Octagon, and on top of that the broadcast crew sometimes show the finish from multiple angles.
The ref cam, much like on Saturday night, won’t always produce a great shot of the finish, and the money spent for the setup and the time spent trying to put it all together could be better spent on other production values.
I will give the ref cam this, it has made significant strides since the days of Pride, when the referee walked around with the headseat camera. Cameras are much clearer nowadays.
It was cool back in the days of Pride and many people wanted it brought back, but it isn’t necessary with the way UFC does its broadcasts and maintains production value.
Fox has utilized these unique camera angles for other sports, such as for Major League Baseball and NASCAR. But much like the idea of the ref cam for the UFC, it is borderline useless for these sports. At least during the MLB All-Star game, the usage of the “Diamond Cam” seemed unnecessary given the angles they already use to show plays and on top of that, I didn’t think it was a good shot either.
But that’s just me, someone striving to get a degree in communications.
I do know one thing for sure, though, and that is the ref cam seems like a great idea on the outside. We can all clamor for it and want to see it happen, but in actuality it isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Perhaps it should be left to the Pride nostalgia we all enjoy.
Photo: Yuji Shimada (L) wears a camera while refereeing a Pride bout (Sherdog)