According tomedia CNET, things will look a little different when people watch the NBA league reboot on July 31. There will be no empty grandstands and fake crowd noise. Instead, the NBA will invite fans to participate in a virtual way, using huge screens and Microsoft software to display their live avatars in the stands.
The NBA and Microsoft announced Friday that the social distance fan experience will be displayed on a 17-foot-tall screen on three sides of the stadium, designed to recreate the appearance of other standard stadium seats. Microsoft will use its team software’s new Together model to allow the faces of up to 300 fans to appear in the “seats.” These fans need special tickets to participate.
“Our goal is to create a pleasant and immersive experience that allows fans to engage and maintain a sense of community when we start the season again in these unique and challenging situations,” Sara Zuckert, the NBA’s next-generation television broadcaster, said in a statement.
The NBA’s digital fan program marks the latest shift to technology to help bridge the gap that fans have been forced to keep at because of the new crown outbreak, which has infected more than 15.66 million people since it was first discovered in December and killed more than 638,000 patients. Apps such as Zoom, Slack, Google Meet and Microsoft’s Teams have become basic tools for businesses, schools and families trying to work and communicate in social distance and locking programs that sweep the globe.
As entertainment and sports organizations try to reopen amid the continuing danger of the virus, they are also forced to look for alternatives to the stadiums and concert halls that were once overcrowded. Nba practices, including screens branded by Michelob Beer, use Microsoft’s Together model, which was first announced earlier this month, as part of an effort to make conference participants feel they are closer to each other. The technology is achieved by eliminating the participants’ personal background and placing their avatars in the stadium seats they all see on the screen.
“It looks like we’re working side by side, sharing a huge virtual Zoom background,” CNET’s Scott Stein wrote of his first attempt at the technology. “Although it’s an overlaid audience, we all sit inside and look silly at first, but it’s based on careful observation, including mirroring your face, to match the situation you see around you. When you observe your classmates, they may notice that you are subtly close to them in the room. “
In addition to fans being able to “participate” in the game, the NBA and Microsoft said Teams players will be able to use “more than 30 cameras,” including some located closer to the stadium to show unprecedented camera angles. The NBA has also installed microphones around the stadium to capture more sound from the stadium.
Fans can also use the HASHTAG on Twitter to cheer “virtually” through the NBA app, NBA.com or Twitter, and the NBA will show it on video boards.
“We hope that the Together model will help fans feel more connected and immersed in the game, and help teams feel the energy of the fans, even if they can’t be in the stadium,” Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s vice president of corporate affairs who is responsible for Teams, said in a statement.