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Will Sky use real fan noise recorded from past games to cover the silence of the stadiums?

A mystification of the stadium atmosphere or an improvement of the TV experience?

Will Sky use real fan noise recorded from past games to cover the silence of the stadiums? A mystification of the stadium atmosphere or an improvement of the TV experience?

The experiment was born from the producers of Sky Deutschland, the first to have to interface after almost three months of stop with the broadcast of the Bundesliga games. Sky Virtual Audio is the option that allows the viewer to eliminate the silence of the empty stadium and, by selecting the "original audio" option via a button on the remote control, to listen to the game with an artificial effect that reproduces the atmosphere and stadium buzz we are used to. "In addition to the live commentary, a new alternative audio track will also reproduce the fans' choirs for the teams on the pitch and the reactions of the fans in the stands during the match," explained Sky Deutschland. For those who want to watch the games with the ambient background, "the emphasis will be placed more on the calls of the players, on the instructions of the coaches and on the sounds of the ball".

Is the simulation of full arenas in structures where there are a maximum of 200 people, including professionals, players, staff and managers, to be considered a positive novelty or the illusion of a reality that will not return before 2021?

The Sky group has decided to extend the option also to Italy, obviously provoking discordant reactions: there are those who, as a purist, prefer not to enjoy a show made by improbable choirs and almost prefer silence compared to a false context; there are those who, however, cannot bear the deafening silence, the constant indications of the coaches, the whistles so clear of the referees and they enjoy a game that comes as close as possible to normalcy - something that every person has more and more need.

While in Italy the meeting that the Minister of Sport Spadafora is scheduled for tomorrow with the leaders of the Lega Calcio to await the restart of Italian football, in England and Spain the waters are starting to move. Both Liga and Premier League have decided to resume completing their respective leagues and the dates to return to the field resemble those of Italy (between 13 and 20 June). The players have returned to training, but at the same time the media machine of football is also starting up again and there are questions about the use of Virtual Audio technology. Media Pro (the giant that holds the audiovisual rights of the Spanish league) and Premier League Productions have already expressed positive opinions regarding the pre-recorded stadium sound effects and have already made contact with companies that deal with this technology.

In the past few hours, The Guardian has launched yet another news on the subject. Yamaha designed Remote Cheerer, the app that will allow fans to make their favorites hear their voices. The downloader, therefore, will be able to cheer on (or against) the teams that will take the field directly by recording their voice. These same vocal notes will then be reproduced in the stadiums via the speakers.

The leaders of the Premier are already in talks with OZ Sports after listening to different opinions of the professionals - only 10% opposed totally, while 90% is divided between the secondary option (to be chosen with the remote control) and the primary option ( to be integrated into the commentary as the main source). Media Pro follows the same direction and, indeed, tries to raise the bar. The "generating ambient audio" has been approved, while work is being done on how to improve the stadium experience. One solution on the table is the possibility of covering the bleak empty stands with sheets and projecting the live statistics of the race. There are still no details on the realization and therefore it is not yet defined whether they will be visible only on TV or even to those who are physically at the stadium.

The last frontier comes as always from overseas broadcasts. Andrew Marchand of the Post reported that ESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS and Turner Sports are working on experimenting with a new virtual reality application. Without necessarily having to go down to the technician, the American TV stations will try to superimpose realistic-looking virtual fans on the screens to give the impression of a full arena (a procedure similar to that used in video games with the new CGI features).

The question now is: will Virtual Audio be reproduced in Italy too? To get an answer, we have to wait for the competent authorities, but we will tend to say yes. Sky Italia will probably conform to the techniques used by German colleagues, but the selection of the audio track already tickles the minds of many. In a country where cheering - and ultras culture in general - is put at the center of attention only to tell about negative and disparaging episodes, how will the recordings of games already played be structured? It will be important to avoid the mistakes seen in the Bundesliga (in the Wolfsburg-Borussia Dortmund style with the virtual fans who cheered on a throw-in) and at the same time it will be important to select the moments that will form the audio track that will accompany millions of viewers.

Stadium culture inevitably leads to teasing between the two teams or to rain of whistles when an ex touches the ball. All fundamental components to make the stadium atmosphere that you want to recreate via Virtual Audio plausible. If we consider the glass half full, the new possibility of getting used to not hearing the usual uncomfortable episodes that still echo in many Italian curves could influence the behavior of the spectators who will return to the stadium in months, perhaps with a little more civilization and of sports culture. If, on the other hand, we considered the glass half empty, Virtual Audio could be seen with a concrete mystification of cheering, only increasing the illusion of being in the stadium. The concept of "feeling the bedlam and seeing the empty stages" could potentially have the opposite effect compared to the predetermined one, that is, to give back some heat from the pre-Covid stage 19.