Ambient Sounds Used In Online Pokies And Sports Stadiums
In these times, as people are spending most of their time at home, sports fans have naturally been feeling frustrated because their favourite past time – watching sports – has been very limited. But do not fear! Sports stadiums have come up with a creative way to use the empty space and to engage the fans! And no, it’s not only the online pokies games, though of course they are very accessible and remain our firm favourite – especially the sports games at JackpotCity Casino.
German Bundes Liga Stadium opens up
The first Liga stadium to open up again and start playing matches was the German Bundesliga stadium. The matches are being played in a completely empty stadium! So to get the viewers at home engaged with the game and to simulate ‘the feel’ of a crowded space, they added ambient sounds. These stadiums have been recorded during the previous matches played to full stadiums, for a complete audio-visual experience. The experience was popular with the viewers that the trend spread to the USA, with Fox News playing certain sports matches in the same way, to a generally positive reception.
Australia and New Zealand jump on-board
Now the trend has come to Australia and might coming to NZ soon too, as the countries open up again! Channel Seven managing director Lewis Martin told afl.com.au that “viewers will decide whether or not adding crowd noise was a good thing”. Early reaction to the move to add ambient sounds to AFL and NRL games has been mixed, with opinions divided pretty much down the middle. The move was strange even for broadcasters, who found it difficult to offer an exciting commentary for the games without the accompanying buzz of being in the game. They called the ambient audio Fake crowd noise.
We tried to imagine what that would be like, and it was hard! To get the full immersive experience you want both visuals an audio, imagine playing an online pokie game and there is no audio whatsoever to get you excited about your winnings. That would be quite boring!
Crowdless Stadiums Better for Racehorses
The Melbourne Cup in November 2020 was held for the first time without the usual raucous crowds. It was the first year in history that punters and racing fans all had to watch the races remotely. One racehorse trainer explained that the lack of a crowd would be a factor in the race and would be better for racehorses because they are very sensitive animals. Only 1500 people were allowed in as essential workers at Flemington instead of the usual 80,000. Clearly the strange atmosphere didn’t put people off making a bet on the race: betting was up 17% on the 2019 figures. One New Zealand remote punter managed to win over NZ$1 million dollars from a NZ$30 bet.
First game in Australia
The first game from an Aussie broadcaster with ‘fake’ crowd noises was a partnership between the Channel Nine and Australian company aFX, which added ambient crowd sounds to a live TV broadcast. This technology debuted at a game between Broncos and the Eels at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, and going by the reaction on social media, the reception was mostly positive. However, a lot of people were saying that this will take a while to get used to. There was a strong push against the excited noises and the sight of empty stadiums, which threw a lot of people off.
Hard to imagine the crowds
Anecdotally, the most difficult thing about virtual commentary, to a game being played in an empty stadium, is the missing crowd and the buzz of excited crowd, roaring for their favourite players. The main complaint was that the noise sounded simply fake. Imagining a roaring crowd is not the same as seeing one, and people agree. An important concern about it is that, in the future, if matches are poorly attended, the video footage could be doctored to make it more exciting than it was in the first place!
Strange or wonderful experience?
The question this raises is really this – are sports matches adding audio only for the viewers at home, or are they playing it to support the players on the field? Imagine, how would it feel for the players to be on a huge field, with rows and rows of empty seats around them, but listening to the roaring crowds? It would be such a strange experience! We have all seen excited players doing laps of the field, to the cheering of their fans – what would happen to this practice when there are no viewers?
The positive comments were saying that an imaginary crowd allowed for a better recording, as they didn’t cover up the more ‘intimate’ sounds from the field. Unlike in traditionally recorded games, these quiet recordings picked up the sounds of contact between the players, sounds of their heavy breathing and “”, said Peter Sterling, a fellow Nine commentator and former NRL star, on Today on Saturday. For him, “That really is the most appealing part of the game”. The crystal clear recordings, without the ambient crowd noise, allowed fans to feel even closer to the game, as they were hearing the sound of flesh and bone colliding in tackles.
Word of the year?
This phenomenon is so unique to our pandemic- coloured days, that there is even a push to allow “empty stadiums” to become the word of the year! It’s the sign of the times that nobody is even batting an eyelid at this. In a way, it’s a newly discovered world that we are living in. What makes it so interesting is that the technology that we have in our day is allowing us to feel closer to people – in these days of social isolation; Facetime, Zoom and Skype are kings! So it’s kind of fitting that the new technology is also being used to create – or recreate – exciting sports activities on the field and track. We really think we will be seeing a lot more of this happening, even as the world slowly begins to open up in the post-pandemic world.