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The kiss cam, behind the scenes

For people who pay more attention to the screens above the court than the game below, the kiss cam is a highlight. It shows up at basketball, baseball, and hockey games, and it's a key part of arena entertainment. The above video shows how it all actually works — from the minutiae of the selection process to the business model that keeps the kiss cam running.

The history of the kiss cam is surprisingly hazy — Alan Siegel at Deadspin wrote the best possible history of the segment, but it's hard to track down just who invented it. The economics, however, are easier to understand — video boards (and programs that play on them, like the kiss cam) are a key part of how modern arenas make money. Those big screens bring in a lot of cash.

But it might be the minute-by-minute processes of kiss cams that are most interesting — and most opaque — to regular fans. From awkward kisses to over-the-top makeout sessions, the kiss cam is both spontaneous and meticulously planned. This video shows how a director, control room, and camera operator work together to make it happen.