What comes into mind when you are told to imagine a stadium? The bustling crowd cheering for their team, vuvuzelas playing, and the deathly silence when the opponent team scores against the favourite one. But all of these have changed due to Covid-19 outbreak. Though leagues like English Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga have resumed again, the games are played behind closed doors, which means – the audience or fans are not allowed in the stadium. And hence, to make the audience feel at home, the broadcasters have introduced a unique and creative solution.
Premier League broadcasters like Sky Sports and BT sports have started to add a special feature 'crowd noise' with the sounds of the actual game coverage. South Korea's K league was the first to employ this technique, and Premier League has now followed suit. Here is how it works.
On TV, an audio carpet or flat crowd noise of previous matches is added first. Then, special sounds for penalties, goals and fouls are inserted manually by a watching producer. Though it sounds like it's coming from the stadium, the players can't actually hear the sound. Also, Sky Sports offers the option to keep or turn off the artificial sound to the audience. It ebbs and flows according to what happens on the field. The sound is called atmospheric audio. The version used by Sky Sports is made by EA sports. They combined 1300 different audio tracks to find the right combination. According to their press release, the sound is made to replicate the lively and vibrant atmosphere of premier league matches.
I watched a Premier League match between Tottenham and Arsenal with this special effect, and the good thing is that the difference is almost indistinguishable. Some may find it soulless or inauthentic, but it is okay by my measure. And in these desperate times, it is better than nothing.