Fox Footy will implement virtual crowd noise when the AFL season starts again on June 11.
This initiative follows the successful first weekend of NRL where the rankings are the highest since Fox League began showing every game four seasons ago.
Fox Sports television head Steve Crawley expects AFL fans to welcome the noise of the virtual crowd as rugby league fans widely agree on its introduction.
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“I’m glad the first NRL was because for the most part the game was quite compact,” Crawley said Foxfooty.com.au.
“But NRL is easier than AFL. You can be 70 meters away from the ball and are still part of the game and the audience can react to what happens to the attacking forward or attacker.
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“To cover up the fact there are empty stands, we will shoot the two games more tightly.
“We have a lot of work to do next week and a little more.”
Crawley said finding a balance between authenticity and atmosphere was a top priority.
To accurately reflect different reasons across Australia, Fox Sports staff has worked overtime to get crowd noise from various scenarios in a match.
On Saturday June 13, when Fox Footy broadcast its first exclusive AFL match (Brisbane v Fremantle) with a virtual crowd, there will be two producers and two audio directors working on the game using advanced technology.
“I don’t want to hide the fact that there are no crowds on the lawn,” Crawley continued.
“But we did a few things about five weeks ago and I am sure that the viewing experience is superior to a softer crowd under the influence of calls and on the field.
“It’s important to play the third one far (behind the game itself and the commentator). It is there to warm the game rather than dominating the game.
“We have to get every basis that we will broadcast from and the host audience and what happens where there is a goal kicked and passed. Plus playing through the middle of the field.
“Then we have to get the visitors from every match and the cities too. That’s a serious project. “
In a sense, the resumption of NRL helped Crawley and his team too.
That gives the AFL wing of Fox Sports the chance to find out what works and what hasn’t.
He added: “After each NRL match at the weekend we make some changes and learn as we go. This will benefit AFL because we will be joining our audio team in Sydney and Melbourne.
“We will put the producer to work with Leigh Carlson and Michael Neill’s team at Fox Footy.
“We have several touch screens that can be cell phones or tablets where you place your finger and can go up and down and spin there. That’s good enough. “
Once the professional entertainment experience in the first weekend of the NRL action, Crawley has received a call from an international broadcasting institution that is contemplating a similar approach.
“They are interested in buying what we have done,” he said.
“On television you are determined to have innovation and do things at the world level.
“We feel that we have a great opportunity here for our AFL viewers to be at the forefront. We have done all this through the good people we have and their skills and feelings for the game. “
Crawley said Fox in the US added an “underlying” crowd noise to the German Bundesliga match, rather than the host announcer itself, but maintained the project had not been handled like this anywhere else in the world.
“We are the first broadcasters with the right to start the crowd with games,” he said.
“AFL will follow but the difference is we have more experience and hopefully we can improve it.
“There are people around who are broadcasting all over the world. They want to collect a lot of money, but we have been looking for ways to use the skills of our people at home to find ways that might be as good – if not better – than elsewhere.
“We will have a large audience and it is very important we treat them with respect and give them a warm and professional product.”