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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) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fake fans

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   1. ramifications of an exciting 57i66135 Posted: July 27, 2020 at 04:46 AM (#5965974)
the uncanny valley is real, and it's spectacular.

   2. Perry Posted: July 27, 2020 at 11:14 AM (#5966028)
Can't comment on the virtual fans since I haven't seen them, but having seen both, I do prefer cardboard cutouts to empty seats.
   3. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: July 27, 2020 at 01:21 PM (#5966075)
The Fox announcers are creepy enough!
   4. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: July 27, 2020 at 01:22 PM (#5966076)
I like the cardboard cutouts.
   5. Itchy Row Posted: July 27, 2020 at 01:33 PM (#5966081)
The cardboard cutouts are fine, but those people who only appear in the bleachers on balls hit into the outfield and then disappear on the replays seem like they're the ghosts of the victims of some covered-up Dodger Stadium massacre.
   6. Srul Itza Posted: July 27, 2020 at 01:48 PM (#5966083)
Frankly, this is one of the least creepy things about FOX.
   7. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 27, 2020 at 03:38 PM (#5966133)

I assume this was posted in another thread, but even as a Mets fan I thought this was pretty funny:

He retired in 2012, but longtime foe Chipper Jones is still haunting the Mets.

The Hall of Famer provided a Hall of Fame-level troll for his old rivals, buying a cutout of himself at Citi Field. The Mets are allowing fans to buy cutouts of themselves to fill the empty seats.
   8. The Honorable Ardo Posted: July 27, 2020 at 04:30 PM (#5966151)
Take me out to the ball game
Take me out to the cutouts
Buy me some smoothies and IPA
I'll try hard to stay 6 feet away
   9. phredbird Posted: July 27, 2020 at 05:09 PM (#5966180)

when they shoot the cutouts from behind at dodger stadium it looks for a second like ku klux klan day at the ballpark.

scared the cr@p outta me.
   10. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 27, 2020 at 07:29 PM (#5966215)
The Hall of Famer provided a Hall of Fame-level troll for his old rivals, buying a cutout of himself at Citi Field.
I mean, sure, it’s funny, but he must be a real Big Troll Hall guy. That’s maybe Chick Hafey-level trolling.
   11. Mayor Blomberg Posted: July 27, 2020 at 11:58 PM (#5966269)
like they're the ghosts of the victims of some covered-up Dodger Stadium massacre.

Norris Poulson did it.
   12. Mayor Blomberg Posted: July 28, 2020 at 01:17 AM (#5966297)
   13. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 28, 2020 at 09:08 AM (#5966317)


Die-hard Athletics fan Bryan Johansen bought himself a cardboard fan cutout with an image of Orbit, the Astros mascot, in a trash can.


Now that's HOF-level trolling.
   14. DL from MN Posted: July 28, 2020 at 01:57 PM (#5966406)
I love the cardboard cutouts. It was fun seeing AJ Pierzynski behind home plate in Chicago, as well as the person that bought out a whole section.
   15. Jose Canusee Posted: July 28, 2020 at 09:44 PM (#5966527)
Next AI meme site: This Fan Does Not Exist, where if you click enough will produce a fan with a Red Sox shirt and Yankee cap.
   16. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: July 28, 2020 at 09:59 PM (#5966533)
Just now clicking into this thread. From the headline, it sounded like a years-late rant against the Pink Hats.
   17. Hank Gillette Posted: July 28, 2020 at 10:23 PM (#5966547)
I know this is vague, but one of the stadiums I saw had cardboard cutouts of some old-time baseball players. Maybe at Dodger Stadium? I know I saw part of an Angels-Dodgers game.
   18. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 28, 2020 at 11:26 PM (#5966561)
One of the downsides to the Jays not playing any games in Toronto is that "Grandma Jay" (as we call her, since she won't do interviews and doesn't want publicity), the old lady who sits behind home plate for most of their games, won't be appearing (in the flesh or cutout form).

She's been going to the games for a LONG time, and she's pretty comfortable back there.

She became briefly "internet famous" when MLB saw her stoically stare down a foul ball in her direction. Two days later, she played it up pretty well.

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