We’ve been eagerly awaiting announcements about how broadcast partners will treat MLB broadcasts from empty ballparks, and now we know how Fox will handle it: imaginary fans created with augmented reality technology.
The above screenshot is from a test of a Chase Field crowd generated with Pixatope software, as the network teams with Silver Spoon Animation and SMT to bring fans to the ballpark at a time when fans are not allowed in the ballpark. The fans are indeed low-res, but the goal is to build up detail over time. The software will not be used for every play, but if you check out this video you can get some idea of how Fox will use it.
No fans? Not on FOX Sports.
Thousands of virtual fans will attend FOX’s MLB games this Saturday. pic.twitter.com/z9oQU0rYuC
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) July 23, 2020
Here’s the thing. Many of us love sports because it’s the ultimate reality show: what you see is what you get, and you usually receive enough information to make your own evaluations. But in a time of deepfakes, we are more than a little of skeptical of software that so openly purports to present an unreal account of a very real event. It’s no secret that COVID-19 is forcing MLB to play without fans; it’s really not right for Fox to tell us otherwise.
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