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Sunday, July 26, 2020

Those fake baseball fans are creeping people out

As part of an attempt to make Major League Baseball games in this weird, coronavirus-shortened season seem as close to normal as possible, Fox Sports decided to create virtual fans, digital versions of cheering people who would react to the games broadcast on Fox the way real fans do.

Let’s just say they didn’t quite knock it out of the park.

As Nick Schwartz noted in USA Today, the virtual fans popped in and out of view during the broadcasts, appearing when cameras pointed toward the outfield, but then weren’t visible behind home plate, making for an unsettling experience….

To be sure, this is a new thing, and Brad Zager of Fox Sports told The Verge the network was still figuring it out, with plans to evolve the process from game to game and week to week. And the technology is certainly impressive, as my colleague Chaim Gartenberg described:

The augmented reality software used to insert the crowds is called Pixotope, which has worked on AR graphics for things like the Super Bowl and The Weather Channel’s terrifying storm warning demonstrations.

It works by leveraging graphics (created by creative agency Silver Spoon Animation) built in Epic’s Unreal Engine. Unreal Engine is used here for the same reason it’s popular for creating video games or for crafting virtual on-set backgrounds for shows like The Mandalorian. Unlike most film graphics, which have to be rendered in post-production after the fact, Unreal can render in real time, making it far more suited for live television.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 26, 2020 at 06:37 PM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: fake fans

 

 

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