EA has confirmed that FIFA 20 crowd noise will be used in real Premier League games when the English top flight kicks off again later this week.
Using a system it’s calling “Atmospheric Audio”, EA is supplying 13 hours of sounds – made up of 1,300 individual ‘assets’ – to both the English Premier League and Spanish La Liga for use on TV broadcasts. Sky Sports are the first UK broadcaster to confirm that they’ll be using the system.
All matches are to take place in empty stadia until further notice, to limit the further spread of coronavirus.
Valencia thought they had won it until Levante nicked a point in stoppage time 👇pic.twitter.com/OuezHxrQZfJune 13, 2020
So how does it all work? Going by yesterday’s La Liga fixtures – you can see highlights of Valencia’s draw with Levante above – the system is very similar to that which has been in use in the Bundesliga. In an interview with ESPN, Alessandro Reitano, Sky Deutschland's SVP sports production, explains its mechanics:
“Take Dortmund vs Bayern on Tuesday [26 May]. We took the basic audio carpet from the last match they played against each other. We have a basic crowd noise of fans, chanting and everything, and we deliver exactly this part to the outside broadcast (OB) van on-site. Our audio engineer in the OB van is mixing the authentic sound, which is happening at the stadium, together with this audio carpet. We get this feed into our broadcasting centre in Unterföhring, near Munich. Now comes the tricky last bit.”
“We created audio samples for specific scenes,” continues Reitano. “Penalties, fouls, decisions from VAR and how people would react. We created samples from the dedicated fans and there is one guy, a Sky sound producer, who is watching the match live. Their job is to insert a specific sample if an action happens.”
“Let's say there's a foul or a penalty. We have special samples of how fans would react to that, we play it live into the audio mix. That gives a better result than any other way, we feel, at the moment. The whole audio operation is done with up to 10 people across a weekend.”
The Premier League restarts on Wednesday 17 June, with two fixtures on the first-day slate. Aston Villa vs Sheffield United kicks off at 6pm, with Manchester City vs Arsenal taking place at 8.15pm on the same day. Both matches are to be broadcast on Sky Sports.