“The kind of audio stuff that people really love to hear”
Fox Sports will again manage half of the American League’s MLB League Division Series broadcasts this year and will return to travel between stadiums following the COVID-restricted 2020 playoffs, when games were played in a limited set of Site (s. The restrictions, as difficult and inconvenient as they were, allowed viewers to hear the playing field like never before, with the absence of crowds allowing for audible nuances in the microphones around the pitch, in the canoes, on the fences. and on the players. While this year’s playoffs have returned to normal, the desire to capture even more audio remains a top priority for the network.
“Back when we didn’t have fans,” recalls Michael Davies, Senior Vice President, Field Operations and Technical, Fox Sports, “To a certain extent, we actually had almost a studio-like environment, getting the best of both worlds: we had a quiet location, so we could pick up as many field effects as possible. ”
This year, he adds, “we’re going to put mics on the field itself in the infield and the outfield to get those field effects again and look to find more areas where we can. [capture] things from the inside.
He notes that the more than 70 microphones that will be deployed create new management challenges for the audio team. The team will work from the NEP ND2 and Game Creek Yogi mobile units, which will serve throughout the playoffs. Two additional trucks will be added for division matches.
A learning process
According to Fox Sports senior audio mixer Joe charpentier, which will serve as the A1 for the broadcaster’s MLB playoff games, the ground microphones will be back this year, with a focus on those he considers most effective: those around the infield and the mound of the launcher. Field placement had grown to a fairly complex level over the past few years, with Carpenter and his team defining player changes for teams in different stadiums, much like managers position outfielders based on the dimensions of the fence. of a park. However, the return of fans to the stands further complicates the use of these microphones.
“It was always a learning process with them,” he says. “We were hoping to capture come off-screen [chatter] and some diving parts. But it depended on where the balls were hit, and that can change a lot of things. Real value for money comes from the infield pickups and pitcher’s mound.
One change this year, however, will be that the audio will follow the camera cuts more closely, increasing the challenge of creating fast, transparent crossfades. Another will be the increase in the number of microphones around the plate to capture more of the incidental but characteristic sounds of baseball.
“I want to hear the next batter hit the donut off the bat in the circle on the deck,” he said. “The kind of audio stuff that people really love to hear.”
Carpenter and Davies are both happy with one thing they are not hear those playoffs: artificial crowd sounds.
Davies says, “Between having real fans there and hopefully some of those places being outdoors, I think we’re going to get some fantastic sound in October. “