In Broadcast - October 2020 - 48

48

www.inbroadcast.com | Vol: 10 - Issue 10 | October 2020

InUSA

Innovative Technology Helps
Broadcasters Navigate Sports
Without Crowds
By Michael Grotticelli...

A

s professional sports resume
across the world, broadcasters
have been challenged to come up with
innovative ways to cover the games
in empty stadiums and arenas while
bringing some excitement to fans at
home. And they have done a great job
under a tough situation.
While the techniques used to
broadcast these "ghost games" has
been different in every countrysome sports leagues are choosing
a minimalist approach while others
have experimented with crowd
avatars, artificial audio and live fans
cheering online-fans are watching,
and generally applauding, in record
numbers. That's good news for an
industry that has reportedly lost
$5 billion in revenues during the
pandemic. The demand for the product
is still there.
The German Bundesliga was among
the first leagues to resume live
matches without fans in May, using
low-and-tight camera angles to make
up for the lack of fans. The strategy
worked for most, although some
purists grumbled.
Like many, the English Premiere
league is now piping in crowd noise
supplied by EA Sports, a video game
developer. Spain's LaLiga is using the
same audio but went a step further
and developed computer-generated
fans (with Vizrt's Viz Arena virtual ad
placement system) to fill the seats for
viewers at home. Production company
Mediapro worked with Vizrt to
developed artificial fans and digitally
insert them into the live broadcast
feed. The effect was very creative
but lacked realism. It was eventually
replaced with virtually inserted
graphics over empty seats.
The National Basketball League is
using 17-foot tall LED screens behind
the team benches to recreate a crowd,
featuring fans at home cheering
on the action in real time. The NBA
partnered with Microsoft Teams to
make it possible. All fans needed was a
computer or device capable of running
the Microsoft Teams App. Each game's
home team is given seat priority. Once

Spain's LaLiga is using artificial crowd audio and computer-generated fans created
with Vizrt's Viz Arena virtual ad placement system to fill the seats for viewers at home

chosen to participate, fans received
a Microsoft Teams username and
password via email. They simply
logged on to the game feed 30 minutes
prior to tip-off. The reaction from fans
has been extremely popular. Press
reports say the players like it too.
The National Football League (NFL) is
using what they are calling "enhanced"
crowd sound, generated from footage
captured by NFL Films, the league's
media arm, which always collects
team and venue audio (and video) for
postproduction of its TV specials and
other uses. The stadiums are using
a custom road case kit that includes
Audiokinetic's
Wwise
authoring
software, some laptops, and USB
interfaces with four analog outputs
each. This allows "audio-sweetener
mixers" to access and mix sounds from
different games of the past while at
the venue.
Of course, none of the choices
are perfect for everyone, but they
all show a willingness on the part

of broadcasters to get on with the
business of televising live sports in
a way that's familiar for fans sitting
at home. Recognizing this, major
networks like Sky in the UK and others
are getting creative and giving viewers
two channels to pick from: one with
these new enhancements and the
other without. Beyond crowd sounds,
virtual graphics are also being used in
highly creative ways to display player
and game stats as well as messaging
to viewers or to support brand
sponsorships. This is where technology
from companies like ChyronHego,
Pixel Power, Ross Video, and Vizrt are
focusing a lot of their R&D efforts right
now.
There are a lot of game and player
statistics that can be generated
from sports that could be used to fill
that canvas of empty seats. Getting
brand exposure in the stands is also
paramount when sponsors are paying
the bills and we're sure to see more of
it going forward.

The National Basketball League is using 17-foot tall LED screens behind the team
benches to recreate a crowd, featuring fans at home cheering on the action
in real time on Microsoft Teams app

Under COVID-19 the live sports
production world has had to change
its ways of working and it's looking
more and more like that new normal
might be what the future of sports
production-reduced crews and minimal
equipment-looks like. Creatively, lower
camera angles and fewer camera
positions are being used to cover the
entire action. It seems clear that less
technical coverage will be dictated by
network management in the future.
Sports rights will continue to increase
in cost, so, for network accountants,
the price of getting the game to
viewers will have to come down. If
nothing else, COVID-19 is showing
us that it's possible to leverage an
IP infrastructure and stay on the air
with a distributed network of content
providers.
There has been a fringe benefit of
no crowds: production companies
can now put the cameras anywhere
they want. There are no seat-kills.
This allows you to place the cameras
in the right position to get tight shots
that are not taking in so much of the
background. Therefore, Camera One
could be your wide crowd shot and all
of the other cameras in a production
can zoom in tighter. And the when you
go wide, you have the virtual crowd. In
this way, the cameras become better
storytelling tools.
There are a lot of issues involved
in each league's choice, and some
leagues don't want to feature anything
but the game play. Ultimately the
fan will decide what their preferred
viewing experience will be, but
feedback on social media has been
positive to any and all forms of
enhancement. They just want to watch
a match, fake fans or not.
Just a few months ago broadcasters
were desperate for a way to televise
games with no fans in attendance. The
latest audio (AoIP, sampling, audio
consoles) and video (VoIP, IP, graphics,
software) technology gave it to them.
Kudos to the sports production and
media industry for doing its part to
bring society back, one fanless game at
a time.


http://www.inbroadcast.com http://www.vizrt.com https://www.microsoft.com/whatsinstore/2020/07/31/microsoft-teams-gives-nba-fans-a-virtual-seat-to-the-action/

In Broadcast - October 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - October 2020

Contents
In Broadcast - October 2020 - Intro
In Broadcast - October 2020 - Cover1
In Broadcast - October 2020 - Cover2
In Broadcast - October 2020 - Contents
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 4
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 5
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 6
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 7
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 8
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 9
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 10
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 11
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 12
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 13
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 14
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 15
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 16
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 17
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 18
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 19
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 20
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 21
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 22
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 23
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 24
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 25
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 26
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 27
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 28
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 29
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 30
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 31
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 32
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 33
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 34
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 35
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 36
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 37
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 38
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 39
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 40
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 41
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 42
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 43
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 44
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 45
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 46
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 47
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 48
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 49
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 50
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 51
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 52
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 53
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 54
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 55
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 56
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 57
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 58
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 59
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 60
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 61
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 62
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 63
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 64
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 65
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 66
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 67
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 68
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 69
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 70
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 71
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 72
In Broadcast - October 2020 - 73
In Broadcast - October 2020 - Cover3
In Broadcast - October 2020 - Cover4
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http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_NABSHOW2016
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