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      TableTennisDaily is offline
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      Ask the voice of Table Tennis

      Sebastian Hallen an ITTF commentator has just joined TableTennisDaily! Ask him a question below and Seb will get back to you!

      Sebastian won the ITTF voice of Table Tennis competition last year. The competition was designed specifically to meet the growing demands for commentary across itTV, the online video portal for the ITTF that streams an ever-increasing number of matches, including the World Championships and Pro Tours.


      Photo by: Sebastian Hallen

      Sebastian's words below when he found out he would be the next ITTF commentator..

      Sebastian Hallen, said:

      "I had my phone set to alarm me when there was a message from the ITTF, but failed to factor in the time difference between me (living in Germany) and the ITTF office, so the email woke me up in the middle of the night. I immediately felt very nervous about its contents. When I read that I had won I literally jumped out of my bed and danced around the room. I felt as if I had won the World Team Cup myself and I needed to celebrate my victory, but it was in the middle of the night!"

      When asked why he applied Hallen continued:

      "When I watch big events like the World Team Cup with friends who do not play table tennis, it becomes obvious how important the commentator is. Many people don't see the little things: a feint wrist movement, a small timing adjustment or spin variation. So it depends on the commentator to see it and point it out, or they can't truly understand how beautifully complex our sport is and how much on the spot thinking it requires.

      "I have always been the one to tell people 'what happened there' when I watch table tennis with non-players, so when I heard about the ITTF competition and discussed the opportunity with friends they said: "Why don't you apply, you've been doing it all along."

      So what would you like to ask Sebastian? Post your questions below

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    3. Top | #2
      Seb is offline
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      Terrible Photo btw. was taken in a hurry. I have commentated a few events for the ITTF as well as for the german league, most notably of course the WTTTC 2012 in Dortmund, which was for many reasons THE best week I have had, well, ever.

      I would be happy to answer any questions you might have concerning commentary in the past, present and future. Besides stuff about myself, I can also offer some insights into the workings of the ITTF. Behind the scenes, if you will.

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      Giangt is offline
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      Not a lot photoshopping going on there mate Just kidding! Welcome on board TTD and hopefully you can help us verify what's happening at the TT scene. Looking forward reading your posts
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    5. Top | #4
      TableTennisDaily is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by Seb View Post
      Terrible Photo btw. was taken in a hurry. I have commentated a few events for the ITTF as well as for the german league, most notably of course the WTTTC 2012 in Dortmund, which was for many reasons THE best week I have had, well, ever.

      I would be happy to answer any questions you might have concerning commentary in the past, present and future. Besides stuff about myself, I can also offer some insights into the workings of the ITTF. Behind the scenes, if you will.
      Thanks for the intro Seb Can you PM me a photo of you please. I can only find this one used on google.

      I bet you had an amazing time at the WTTTC, everyone I know who went said how extraordinary it was! Looking forward to the questions and responses

    6. Top | #5
      azlan is offline
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      Hey Seb!! Great to have you on board! You're so right about the commentary bit. Whenever we watched live telecast on the livestream, guess what most of us were commenting? The commentators!! hahaha I've got heaps of question to ask you, but the most dire question that I would like to ask has got nothing to do with commentary. It's about pips out rubbers.

      I heard on the grapevine that, after the Olympics, the ITTF is going to ban the use of pips out rubbers. How true is that? If it's true, it's going to change the entire TT scenario worldwide.
      To improve, we must enjoy the game and above all have fun



    7. Top | #6
      Seb is offline
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      Thanks for posting the question!
      I have to say, that I am not aware of any plans in that direction. I do need to tell you that I am not in any position to know such things though. These plans for rule changes and different regulations a strictly kept secret and are not discussed openly in the ITTF. I guess concerning the Pips out rubbers, I know as much as you do. It seems unrealistic though, I know how much the ITTF appreciates the sucess and comeback of defensive players.

      I am, after all, a commentator. So most things I know tend to be in the area of representing table tennis in the Media, growing the sport in terms of media presence and commentating itself. Feel free to ask though, maybe I do have the answer to a question you have.

    8. Top | #7
      Steven is offline
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      Hey Sebastian, welcome.
      Being 'the voice' sounds like an awesome experience. Which of the WTTTC matches have you been commentating on? I'll try to watch some of them again haha.
      Also, do you plan on visiting tournaments outside of Europe as well? For example, the China/Japan Open?

    9. Top | #8
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      Quote Originally Posted by Seb View Post
      Thanks for posting the question!
      I have to say, that I am not aware of any plans in that direction. I do need to tell you that I am not in any position to know such things though. These plans for rule changes and different regulations a strictly kept secret and are not discussed openly in the ITTF. I guess concerning the Pips out rubbers, I know as much as you do. It seems unrealistic though, I know how much the ITTF appreciates the sucess and comeback of defensive players.

      I am, after all, a commentator. So most things I know tend to be in the area of representing table tennis in the Media, growing the sport in terms of media presence and commentating itself. Feel free to ask though, maybe I do have the answer to a question you have.
      Thanx Seb for taking the time to answer. It was more of a shot in the dark actually. When one of my mates asked me that question, I was perplexed too since I know that ITTF encourages the usage of pips out rubbers, the legal ones of course.

      Here's a question that I am really curious about. As a commentator, you're seeing the matches live unfolding in front of you. I suppose you get to watch the matches on the screen as well, like us mortals too. In total, how many screens do you get to watch? And how far are you exactly from the action?

    10. Top | #9
      Seb is offline
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      I did quite a few matches at WTTTC, notably the Men's finals alongside Don Parker. I also commented on both Men's Semi-Finals (CHN vs. KOR, GER vs. JPN) with Jonny Cowan and many of the group stage matches (Men's and Women's). I also commented some solo-style, GER vs. HKG (Women's) comes to mind. Hard to remember, but I was at the mic exactly 1/3 of all the broadcast matches. Helluvatime.

      Certainly more to follow. I did Qatar Open 2012 solo and I am sheduled for the German Open, Polish Open, Russian Open and World Tour Grand Finals in Souzhou later this year. I was supposed to be in Japan and Korea, but things didn't work out shedule-wise, so I had to cancel.

    11. Top | #10
      Seb is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by azlan View Post
      In total, how many screens do you get to watch? And how far are you exactly from the action?
      Depends heavily on the Venue. In Qatar, I had a whole room to myself, nothing to hear but but the air conditioning. I was sitting infront of a screen, pretty removed from all the action down at the table, which I could barely see.

      In Dortmund, we were always 2 commentators in a cabin, which was packed with 2 screens and was open to the Hall at the backside. I percieved this as the perfect situation for commentating. You can talk all you want, but still feel the Athmosphere around you and you can still see the table when you look up from the screen. At the german league, I am almost always located right outside the box, which is kind of bad, because you cannot talk as freely, since there is always the possibilty of disturbing the players before the serve.

      You always have one screen before you, showing exactly what the people at home are seeing. That is, after all, what you need to be commentating on.

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    13. Top | #11
      DanTheTTMan is offline
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      Do you play table tennis? and if so what is your set up?

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      What players do you most want to see in tournament?

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      Seb is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by DanTheTTMan View Post
      Do you play table tennis? and if so what is your set up?
      Yes I do, I play in the 5th league in Germany, nothing special though. I play nothing fancy, fast BTY Blade an 2x T05 like most.

      What players do you most want to see in tournament?
      That is not easy to say. I am a Fan of players who give it their all, regardless of winning chances. Players who savior every second at the table, who fight from start to finish. Chen Qi comes to mind, Dimitrij Ovtcharov certainly. Also less known players like Bojan Tokic, Irene Ivancan, Adrien Mattenet and Kaii Yoshida.

      I very much respect ability and talent. I especially like Ma Lin playing, because he has so much potential. He can literally play anything and everything. You give him a defensive racket, he'd still be Top 50. At least it feels that way.

      Hard to answer, I do not have an absolute favorite player.

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      TTTT is offline
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      What are your thoughts on camera angle and position? On days when there is only one fixed camera on itTV, could it be placed better? Does ITTF mostly care about visibility of the sponsors' publicity, or are they concerned about the viewers' experience too?

    17. Top | #15
      Seb is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by TTTT View Post
      What are your thoughts on camera angle and position? On days when there is only one fixed camera on itTV, could it be placed better? Does ITTF mostly care about visibility of the sponsors' publicity, or are they concerned about the viewers' experience too?
      A very good question leading into an ongoing discussion between me and the company that produces the TV Pictures. As for the TV angle: I myself prefer the angled view to the center view of the table. The game looks much faster and you can see much more of the rotation on the ball. Like I said, my suggestion to change to an angled view is still being discussed. We'll see how it turns out.

      You are absolutely right about the itTV camera (which is the camera used before the TV Team shows up, usually at the initial stages of a tournament) should be positioned better. The itTV guys use just this one camera, no one operating it because, well, itTV is just responsible for the technical side of the production (which is usually just the stream). They are not a TV production team.

      Does ITTF mostly care about visibility of the sponsors' publicity, or are they concerned about the viewers' experience too?
      The ITTF is not solely responsible for the TV pictures. There is also a company at work producing the picture you see on TV (directing and producing). They in turn broadcast and sell the material to a lot of TV stations, which in turn also have a say about sponsoring. Table tennis, after all, has become business. I do not think this is all bad, as our sport is in dire need of maturing media-wise and still has a long way to go. Fortuneatly, most people, in fact almost everyone I have spoken to about this, are more concerned about representing the sport well than showing the sponsor's logo more often.

    18. Top | #16
      WiWa is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by Seb View Post
      A very good question leading into an ongoing discussion between me and the company that produces the TV Pictures. As for the TV angle: I myself prefer the angled view to the center view of the table. The game looks much faster and you can see much more of the rotation on the ball. Like I said, my suggestion to change to an angled view is still being discussed. We'll see how it turns out.

      You are absolutely right about the itTV camera (which is the camera used before the TV Team shows up, usually at the initial stages of a tournament) should be positioned better. The itTV guys use just this one camera, no one operating it because, well, itTV is just responsible for the technical side of the production (which is usually just the stream). They are not a TV production team.


      The ITTF is not solely responsible for the TV pictures. There is also a company at work producing the picture you see on TV (directing and producing). They in turn broadcast and sell the material to a lot of TV stations, which in turn also have a say about sponsoring. Table tennis, after all, has become business. I do not think this is all bad, as our sport is in dire need of maturing media-wise and still has a long way to go. Fortuneatly, most people, in fact almost everyone I have spoken to about this, are more concerned about representing the sport well than showing the sponsor's logo more often.
      This is very interesting. I wonder what you think about the sudden changes in camera angles in a match. With the screen quality on itTV you can sometimes not see the ball because there is a moving camera angle, for example a view from the side that moves towards the right and upwards. Or camera angle changes during a rally, which makes it very hard to see what is going on.
      I think that type of changes would only work if presented in HD or in replays. I've seen many people complain about this on YouTube and such, but if I understand it right this is because of visibility of sponsor names?

    19. Top | #17
      judah000 is offline
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      HEY Seb. Welcome here on TTD!

      This forum is totally out of this world.

    20. Top | #18
      Seb is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by WiWa View Post
      This is very interesting. I wonder what you think about the sudden changes in camera angles in a match. With the screen quality on itTV you can sometimes not see the ball because there is a moving camera angle, for example a view from the side that moves towards the right and upwards. Or camera angle changes during a rally, which makes it very hard to see what is going on.
      I think that type of changes would only work if presented in HD or in replays. I've seen many people complain about this on YouTube and such, but if I understand it right this is because of visibility of sponsor names?
      You in Holland are struggling with the same problem most Europeans have: You depend on the itTV stream, because there is no Table tennis on TV. This is something that is slowly dawning on the ITTF, I think. The itTV Stream, like I stated, has no production, so when the camera guys show up, they just stream the TV Signal that gets produced. From there on their job is mostly encoding the matches to VODs and putting them on the itTV site. I believe they are unaware of any conflicts between the produced TV Signal and the bandwith of the stream, which results in what you described as the ball sometimes "disappearing". I think itTV is aware of these problems, but I am not sure whether they can be fixed at all.

      Maybe my last post was a bit cryptic. What I meant was "The sponsor's do have a saying, but they do not rule the sport or the TV Production at all (yet!)". I am unaware of any decision by a sponsor that has influenced the TV broadcast. Perhaps one -understandable- exception is, that we were instructed not to say "proTour" anymore and instead refer to it as "GAC World Tour".

      If there is a camera change during the rally or an unfortunate angle here and there, it is simply because the Director made a mistake, which happens from time to time. He is responsible for coordinating all cameras, microphones and sometimes the commentator as well, all the while being under constant supervision from the producer, so I think we should forgive him for an occasional mistake.

      The smart thing to do, if you really enjoy watching table tennis is to locate on of the asian TV stations on sattelite broadcasting the signal that is produced on site. I recommend a Singaporian TV Station, b/c they use the original commentary as well. Unfortunately, I do not know which stations buy what we are producing, so you might have to do a little research. That way you get WAY better quality of picture and sound than on the stream. If you manage to record these matches on your PC, you can also use these for the much famed youtube compilations, which I also enjoy watching. Hint@TabletennisDaily!

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    22. Top | #19
      ttmonster is offline
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      Hey Seb !! Just a shout out to you !!! Heard you commentating in the Men's final world cup !! It was refreshing to hear somebody with a good understanding of the sport and who keeps himself update !!! Looking forward to hearing more from you on the big matches !!

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    24. Top | #20
      Seb is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by ttmonster View Post
      Hey Seb !! Just a shout out to you !!! Heard you commentating in the Men's final world cup !! It was refreshing to hear somebody with a good understanding of the sport and who keeps himself update !!! Looking forward to hearing more from you on the big matches !!
      Thanks, this is always nice to hear. Maybe it is time to bring life back to this thread, since a lot has happened in the last year. I have been given the opportunity to be the main Commentator for ITTF, and have thusly been on most of the ITTF Major/Super Series Tournaments, as well as the World Cups and the World Championships.

      I have been given some feedback by the community (mostly from Germany). Most were positive, some negative. I am trying to adress some of the criticism, which is sometimes not possibly, since some critics commented about my "style". There is always a middleground for the commentator to find between commentating "informative" or "emotional". Lean towards one end, and people are bugged from the other faction.

      So if you have any feedback for me, be it positive or negative, I would like to hear it. Additionally, I would like to answer more questions from you guys, maybe about upcoming changes to TV Production, itTV stream etc. If I can!

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