Outer Spatial

Outer Spatial

May 19, 2019

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The Real Life Ventures and Adventures of Trey and Batman

by Trey Nosrac

My friend from Silicon Valley eased into my Prius on a sunny Monday morning.

He also eased into his latest idea to bring technology to harness racing by asking a question: “Did Trey have a winning ticket in the Kentucky Derby?”

“I did not. My shillings backed a horse named Improbable, who finished fourth. This keeps my record perfect. I never picked the winner in a Run for the Roses. How about you, watch and wager?”

“Watched, didn’t wager. Let me ask you something else, were you able to follow your horse during the race?”

I gave an iffy waffle of my hand, “Yes and no. NBC started with a head-on shot of the starting gate, used an overhead view from the interior of the track, then they panned outside, then inside, then overhead. The multiple angles make seeing the race much better than it used to be, but with so many horses, with the rain and the mud, I lost track of my horse a few times.”

“Did you notice the interference from the favorite during the race?”

“No. What are you getting at?”

“I have an idea. One of those technology plans that I promised to share with you. You may think it is crazy, but it’s free, simple, optional, and would be greatly appreciated by people like me who have trouble following a horse in a race.”

I fluttered my hand on my heart, “You had me at free and simple.”

He explained, “People are curious. It is in our nature to try to take in and absorb everything. We want details. However, our senses are limited in both sensitivity and spatial capacity.”

I paused and replied slowly, “You go along talking and acting like a normal person, like a regular human being, then, blammo, out of the blue, you shift into another gear and drop in a sentence like Spock on the brig of the Enterprise… spatial capacity, really?”

He shook his head, “Sorry, the instant the words flew out of my mouth I realized how pretentious they sounded.”

I shook a scolding finger, “Pretentious… another word over the line. Just speak slangy English using incomplete sentences peppered with cuss words — like most Americans.”

He smiled and toned things down, “I have watched plenty of races over the past year. I’ve watched your horse race, watched your gambling selections, my gambling selections, and big stakes races. I find the viewing experience disconcerting.”

“Disconcerting?”

He nodded, “I asked myself why I can’t enjoy the race.”

“Asking questions to yourself is disconcerting.”

He smiled. “I know why I do not enjoy watching and I have a remedy that is quite brilliant.”

“Now you have shifted from pretentious to pompous.”

“Trey, the average horserace is what, a minute, maybe two? Think of all the information viewers need to process in that short amount of time. Where is my horse? What is the pace? Who is the leader? Is a horse moving up or back? Is the horse fluid? What were the final odds when the gate folded? Obviously, racetracks try to help with graphics and announcers, however, they often just add to the clutter. Each time they change camera angles, viewers need to refocus and recalibrate. Tight shots are more exciting but you lose sight of many in the field. With wide pans, you lose excitement and with overhead shots, you lose the saddle pads. Split screen presentations make the viewer decide. For a person like me, watching horse races is a jangling, frustrating experience.”

I nodded, “Yeah, there is a lot of bitching about racetracks keeping the same old ways of showing races but it’s not an easy sport to show on a screen.”

“Horseraces are fast, intense, bursts of action. This leads to problems for viewers.”

“So, what is your solution?” I asked.

“Imagine that you have made your wager just like the one you made on Improbable. Now imagine the horses are behind the gate, and the race begins.”

“That’s not a solution.”

He spoke with his index finger in the air, “The difference is, a few minutes earlier, on the screen of your video log-in you tapped a simple button – FPM (low). FPM will reset the frames per minute and the instant the race begins, you will see the race in slower motion. If you did not tap the FPM activation button, the race will stream as usual. ”

I asked, “The wagering remains the same?”

“Everything is the same, however, a two-minute race that is VIEWED over four or five minutes is a much different, and in my opinion, a much more enjoyable experience. I see many benefits to this slowed presentation but the main one is that our capacity for perceiving data is increased. A very fast, somewhat chaotic event is easier to digest when slowed down.”

After a nanosecond of thinking, I saw the possibilities and endorsed the idea, “Like the interference in the Derby, if half the people were watching the live Kentucky Derby race in slow motion more of us would have seen what happened. The way it is now, most of us did not realize anything happened until they had a chance to view the replay in slow motion.”

He responded, “Exactly, technologically the ability to slow down the feed is not rocket science. This slower viewing option should already be available in horse racing. Who cares if you don’t learn who crossed the finish line first a few minutes later than real time? For all intents and purposes, the race is still a live event. The wagering does not change. In slow motion, and there could be a variety of speed options, the viewer gets more action and more understanding. And anyone who wants to watch as usual is free to do so.”

“My money would last about two minutes longer.”

“Trey, that’s not a joke. Viewers would get more product for their money. In entertainment, slow motion is a tool we use regularly to create tension. Will the hero get out before the explosion? Exciting points in films and television are in slow motion because in the viewer’s mind, slowed motion ramps up the stakes, making it more enjoyable when the climactic moment arrives. It’s a blink of an eye in real time when a horse rallies from off the pace and tries to catch the leaders. At a slower speed, this closing run is stretched out, and stretching out drama is entertainment gold.”

I climbed onboard by saying, “And when I try to explain the nuances of harness horse racing to a neophyte, I would have more time, and maybe even pause the race to explain something…I mean this slowing the picture down could be very educational.”

He punched me on the shoulder and said, “Damn straight pal, horse junkies like you could explain the races using words like spatial and pretentious.”

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