Unreal Engine shows how baseball stadiums will fill up with virtual fans in the 20/21 season

In the USA, baseballs flew back. Like almost everyone, the games are closed doors, since the pandemic requires it, but fans who watch matches through Fox Sports will have the opposite feeling. To return enthusiasm to sport, the North American channel will not only simulate the sound that normally emanates from the stands, as it will fill them with virtual fans, digitally rendered. In the stadiums, the teams will also have the right to the sound effects that simulate the presence of fans. The audio to be used was taken from the MLB video game series: The Show.

"We believe that the public is part of the television broadcast (…) so we wanted to find a solution (that would make up for his physical absence)," explained Brad Zager, executive producer at Fox Sports. "We don't want to deceive anyone (…) but give people a sense of normalcy," he said.

Making this virtual addition a reality will be a software called Pixotope, which uses augmented reality to apply a digital layer over the images captured in the stadium. The company has worked on similar projects, both for The Weather Channel, with realistic digital representations of harsh weather conditions, and for the Super Bowl, with virtual statistics that emerged mixed with the game. The virtual audience will be created through the Unreal Engine to allow that your elements are rendered in real time.

During the broadcast, the channel will be able to adjust the size of the audience on the benches, what type of clothing they are wearing (so that there is harmony with the time that is felt during the match) and what percentage of the home team's fans are compared to those of the home team. visiting team. From this stain of virtual fans, we can also expect some cheers, calls for support and even the classic "wave".

For now, only baseball games broadcast on Fox will be entitled to a virtual audience, but Zagera affirms that the technology may be applied in other broadcasts. "If we feel that we are doing this well, we will apply this system in other sports", he promises.

In Portugal, a similar project was developed for football stadiums, and has also been applied to Sport TV. It is called Global Stadium and was developed by the Portuguese company YD Entertainment, allowing users to choose to hear clapping, singing and other normal noises within sports venues.

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