The challenge of “Hard Knocks”

I’ve been entrenched in Bengals camp the past six days (or is it seven or eight days? It is not easy to keep track of anything when you’re in this isolation booth), and I’ve spent some of my time watching the Hard Knocks crew put together the TV program you’ll watch on HBO later this month.

Coming into camp, I had an impression: a bunch of overzealot cameramen and producers and sound guys and boom operators who were going to run roughshod over everybody in an attempt to get the juiciest soundbite or the coolest-looking video. Like pests. How could they not, I thought? If you’ve watched the show in the past, the cameras seem to be everywhere, in the meeting rooms, in players’ dorm rooms, in everybody’s face, gathering every little piece of information. How could the crew and its cameras not be maddening for everybody – the players, the coaches and the rest of the media? How could they not be locusts?

Instead, you don’t really notice them – which is a pleasant surprise. Yeah, when Bengals strong safety Chinedum Ndukwe hurt his hand Wednesday morning and saw a camera zoom in nearly as close as the trainer examining his fingers, he seemed a little startled by that. But overall, the crew has been very respectful and unobtrusive. In fact, a couple times a few scribes were interviewing players, and Hard Knocks just sneaked up behind us and quietly listened in with their tall boom mikes over our heads. We didn’t know they were there until a few questions into the process.

So far, it seems to be a good experience for everybody involved.

That said, I don’t know how in the hell the Hard Knocks will put together a riveting program based on the practices I’ve seen. I guess, they’ll throw in some stirring music, and, let’s face it, a few slow-motion shots can make anything seem more exciting. As practices go, though, it’s awfully monotonous. Apparently, Hard Knocks gathers 200 hours of footage to make a single one-hour show. I’m actually really interested to see how this is done, because this side of the sausage-making is less than thrilling.

On the plus side, one of the boom operators that I see every day is sporting a mustache similar to this*. So, we’ve got that going for us.

*How this guy blows his nose or eats ice cream is beyond me.

  • Quick public service announcement: I’ll be on Ken Broo’s Sunday morning show at about 10:30 a.m. on 700-WLW.

    Also, a few new book signings to announce:

    Sat. Sept. 19, 1 p.m. – Waldenbooks on Glenway Ave.
    Sat. Sept. 26 – Follett book store, UC campus

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