Saturday, January 12, 2008

Flogging The Dead Horse

Well it may not my area of speciality but I'd like to point out things. Pointing out things will ultimately aid me in my ulterior plan for world domination, crazed dictatorship and my general craving for all-consuming power. What I have got hold of so far is that Video is a 2D approximation of the actual events. That height angle and distance of the camera capturing this 2D picture only allows you to see part of the picture and not the entire picture.

Not many had been following the Sri Lanka England Series. Mike Selvey reports this from that series

All these — HawkEye, the snicko-meter — are an aid to the enjoyment of the television viewer, rather than definitive. However, it is the use of cameras to attempt to adjudicate on low catches, as occurred in Colombo, that is most disconcerting. Time and again this has been demonstrated to be fundamentally flawed. Some years ago, in Australia, for one experimental series it was decided to allow adjudication on low catches as a matter of course. The result was bedlam. The nature of camera angles - particularly at low level, with foreshortening in magnification, impinging shadow and general blurriness of image - made it seem as if every catch had been picked from the ground. It took no time for the players to twig that here was an escape clause and so even the most obviously squeaky clean low slip catch was treated as a felony, batsmen refused to leave the crease until it had been examined by the third umpire who by the very nature of the pictures that were offered to him had no option but to invoke the benefit of the doubt. Not one referral of the dozen or so made in the course of that series was upheld.

So contentious had the issue become, in fact, that the Australian broadcaster Channel Nine, never shy of opinions, took it upon itself to demonstrate, against its own interest, why this particular piece of televisual assistance should be used for nothing more than viewer delectation. To demonstrate, Tony Greig stood in a slip fielding position on the ground, back of his hand on the turf, with a ball in his palm: the resulting camera shots, those that would be used in determining such decisions, showed what some might term indisputable evidence that the ball was on the ground. Later, in England, Channel 4 went through precisely that same process, using Dermot Reeve, to precisely the same end.

Players, as a rule, demand the best decision-making possible, knowing how it can affect matches and careers. There is nothing wrong with this. But an assumption that the use of technology, rendering umpiring essentially redundant, is the panacea is just plain wrong. Sidebottom may have been given out erroneously from a thick inside edge in Kandy and, had a replay been used, would have been given not out. But overall where is the net advantage when a correct assessment by an umpire could be undone by flawed technology? In judging Pietersen out Dar, a very fine umpire with an uninterrupted view of the incident, almost certainly made the right call. For that his partner Harper and he were pilloried.

Johnathan Agnew reports this

However, virtually every catch that is referred is turned down because of TV’s two dimensional shallow depth of field.

There has been a move to stop umpires from turning to the third umpire unless their view of the catch has been genuinely impaired.

This column has long resisted the use of technology in the decision making process. The main reasons are the many imperfections and inaccuracies; the camera's foreshortening of the image in two dimensions and the resulting danger of justice for some but not for others

One could argue that these people are not image experts or camera experts. So I am assuming they report what is hear-say. I am also assuming that they have not 'foreshortened' details about this image business. But according to 'patriotic indian crowd' - the biggest drawback of the quoting business above is that the quotees happen to be white folks. Indian media folks, especially want their exclusive interviews and have apparently understood that anybody not writing in favor of the team (read as writing anti-aussie columns) will not get player's audience. So they will blindly fuel the anti-aussie fire no matter what. The latest trend in the bandwagon says that all white people barring Peter Roebuck are bad people. Mr. Roebuck will continue to be a good boy unless he suddenly starts to make sense or decides on a whim, to be more balanced. Brown people who are sane, balanced and talk logic are considered to have various self-esteem related problems and are safely discarded as white man's lick ass. The moment I see avar own desi folks writing about lofty topics such as video reliability, I will be sure to aggregate that knowledge here. Brown makkal who know this stuff or who have worked on such technlogies with a company bearing my brand name; Will you consider this to be my gentle nudge to write something about this?


sundar said...

It doesn't matter what color makkal they are as long as they are voicing the facts. You highlight on very critical issues that need thorough scrutiny for the good of the game. Your post has left me googling for more than an hr of trying to understand the video approximation..clearly depth of field limits the camera's vision. It leaves us then, for low catches, to trust the neutral human closest to the event => on-field umpire. "vocal pacts" makes us trust the human closest to the event, but the neutrality is killed. So such a pact should never exist.

In the end, a judicious use of technology in the game is necessary. for instance, hot spot which is an on-the-spot infra red scan is definitely more reliable than predictive tools (hawk-eye). but then the reliability of these predictive tools have been established by thorough experimentation.

man! your posts are such a time-killer. ;)

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with Sundar in that "your posts are such a time-killer"! I have recently discovered your blog, and have I been spending hours on end reading all your archives? To be honest, I am extremely inspired by your clarity and coherence in your posts. Keep up the great job. Your Ramayana series was excellent to say the least.

Karthik B.S. said...

Kumble: There is nothing racist about it. We called Ricky monkey too, he never bothered. Symonds-ku uruthuthu.
Journalist: Appadiya?
Symonds: Light-a!

Karthik B.S. said...

Onnum illa, a quote from a very humourous blog.. kandippa padikonom..

A post

Karthik B.S. said...

Anonymous said...

Ritwik sonna mathiri, Ponting did not have the back of his palm between the ground and the ball. He was in the air, falling down and his palm was facing the ground. And he didn't turn his palm up before hitting the ground. Hence, if his body was touching the ground, so was the ball.
Video replay edhukku, chinna kozhantha kuda sollum adhu not out nu.
And yea, he had not tilted his palm in such a way that the base of his palm was touching the ground while the ball was not. No two ways about it. He grounded the ball! Its so obvious if you watch it. Did you?

Ram said...

Interesting Post!! I would like to know if and why such concerns have not been raised in NFL which uses television replays so often. Yes the ball is so much bigger, but does depth not matter when you are looking for the receiver’s toes staying in field or when the receiver has grounded the ball during a reception.

Also everyone has said the shortcomings when technology is used, but where is the well balanced solution needed to enforce the right decisions. Please don’t tell me player agreements are the way to go or if ridiculously the umpires acknowledging the player who claims to have a clean catch.

Rakesh said...

@ anonymous who quoted ritwick:

Hence, if his body was touching the ground, so was the ball.

causality ..heh? let me stretch this logic and see if it applies everywhere;

Since you seem to agree and believe with the palms between ball and ground "experiment". I'll ask you this; if tony craig is holding the ball in his palm. Back of hands resting on the ground - and when you see it via camera the ball appears to be touching the ground. When you see via camera craig's feet also are touching the ground in the camera view.

If you believe that the ball was not touching the ground in this case (we actually know this for a fact) then will you extend the ball analogy and conclude that since the ball is not touching the ground his feet are also not touching the ground and that he actually floating in the air ?

he had not tilted his palm in such a way that the base of his palm was touching the ground while the ball was not

what if a little bird flies and sits next to me and says and all this is the bird's hypothesis; "ponting uncle had his little finger and ring finger underneath the ball. because when he rolls up they are not above the ball"

quoting ritwick is just insane man. her logic was horrible.

Anonymous said...

Skip all that. You are airborne (and falling) and you have the ball in your hand, with the ball facing the ground. The only way you can keep the ball from hitting the ground are
a) By some circus trick or magic you turn your palm upwards before you fall
b) Land on your elbow so that only your elbow (or forearm/base of your palm) hit the ground without the ball itself makes contact.
If you watched the thing on TV, you will know that it was NOT OUT. Clear as daylight. My only point is this - this is different from the scenario where a low catch is taken (probably) in the slips. Of course i agree with Hawkeye's point that video evidence might be unreliable in those circumstances.

Anonymous said...


That was the question I had in mind too.. about cameras in the NFL... However, I am assuming that might be because the cameras in football fields are much closer to the field of action... as you might have noticed are the cameras that travel with the action.. and so this distance might not affect the depth of perception as it might in a cricket field...
I could be wrong... it is just a surmise... someone with more knowledge of the setup or understanding of the concepts might have a better answer...
Hawkeye, care to chip in?

Ram said...


Thanks for noticing my comment and replying. What you said seems plausible, but during a challenge, the referee in NFL looks at views from all available cameras (far or near) to make the determination. So in that case, the depth argument should hold true and if there was evidence against the video review, the team managements would act so outrageously so as to have another congressional hearing.
On the other hand, I also think blaming just loopholes in technology is lame. I am sure if you invest in technology, you will be able to find a solution that is accurate. Just consider the first down yellow lines that show up on TV (NFL). Yes, they are not official lines, but computer software is able to show the line in moving videos too. Who thought that could happen 10 years back.
Also, in this age there are so many surveillance videos used to swing a jury. Not sure if justice is served, but do you think the defense attorney does not grill the expert witness about the concept of depth? After all this is a game and we are not willing to accept. Consider the lives of those who are charged.

Just my opinion…