We all know the seats are empty
I think everybody realizes that sports are going to look very weird on TV for a while (unless you’re watching a game in New Zealand). There won’t be any fans to celebrate big plays, jeer lousy referees or for the cameras to cut to for reaction shots. Broadcasters face the challenge of trying to present games in ways that aren’t totally alien to viewers.
CBS is putting microphones on golfers during PGA Tour events. Some soccer leagues are experimenting with fake crowd noise, with decidedly mixed reviews. (For the Premier League’s return, games on TV had fake crowd noise but viewers streaming online had the option to listen to the natural stadium sound.)
Some leagues, though, are deploying fake crowds. Like, filling the stands with computer generated images.
Spain’s La Liga was the first league to give it a try when play resumed over the weekend. It looked like crap!
Are the blotches of color even supposed to be fans? It looks like Claude Monet’s worst painting.
The final of the Coppa Italia on Wednesday also employed a CGI crowd. It didn’t look any better.
For some reason, the effect was applied only on wide shots. During any closeups, you could see all the empty seats.
The real reason for the fake crowd should have been obvious. The Coppa Italia used it as an ad for Coca-Cola.
Sports leagues are no doubt short on cash during this crisis, but there must be better ways to fill the gap than this. While fake crowd noise isn’t perfect, it can at least sometimes serve as white noise to prevent awkward silence from the broadcasters. Fake fans in the stands, on the other hand, are a total distraction. It makes the picture on the screen too busy.
What’s the point, anyway (aside from the advertising potential)? Do they think the empty seats will be a distraction? Soccer games are already played in empty arenas occasionally due to disciplinary action. Fake crowds are just unnecessary. Let’s hope the trend doesn’t spread to the U.S.
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