Is Fox juicing their broadcast?
October 26, 2007 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Does Fox add sound effects to ball games?

I could swear that when a pitcher really burns one in, you can briefly hear a sound effect that sounds like a jet engine or something. I'm assuming the game is on at least a slight broadcast delay, and if you let the radar trigger such an effect this would be easy to do.

Or maybe it's the actual sound of the ball as heard by a shotgun mike?
posted by Camofrog to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I know that, at the very least, one major network (can't remember if it was/is Fox) has been adding visual effects (sort of like a comet trail) to make it easier to see the puck in the wide shot during hockey games. Older oval racing fans are also used to watching individual cars do battle while they listen to the sounds of cars picked up from somewhere else on the racetrack, for atmosphere -- these days the technology available has taken care of this. Also, shows like America's Funniest Home Videos and such regularly add sound effects.

I guess what I'm saying is, there's precedent in sports and other television programs, and if something like that keeps viewers more interested, it wouldn't surprise me in the least.
posted by davejay at 2:06 PM on October 26, 2007


It wouldn't surprise me if Fox wasn't goosing the audio. It would be in keeping with the whole "pachinko parlor run amok" look of their sports graphics.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:07 PM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


If it's occurring largely with one particular team or another, could it be a sound effect that's being done at the ballpark itself? I know I've been to more "minor league" games with such effects ...
posted by zeph at 2:09 PM on October 26, 2007


I know for a fact that they mic the rims of basketball games to pump up the sound of dunks (or freethrows that brick...). I'd be shocked if they weren't pointing a mic or twenty at various points around the field in baseball.
posted by togdon at 2:11 PM on October 26, 2007


While Fox might very well be adding audio effects (I don't really know), one thing that surprises some casual fans is just how loud a 95-mph fastball really is when they get up close.

The damn things hiss like angry rattlesnakes when they fly through the air, spinning so fast and catching air on the seams. It's really very surprising to hear for the first time if you've only sat in the upper decks.

It's quite possible Fox has just mic'd up the home plate area really well and you're hearing this hissing as it really sounds, or perhaps the audio levels of the natural sounds are mic'd up.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:14 PM on October 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


They definitely mic the field at various places.

I've noticed the same odd sound. My hypothesis: they crank the level on the home plate mic when a pitch comes in to pick up the crack of the bat or the thud of the catcher's mitt, and the jet engine-like sound is just crowd noise at a louder volume.
posted by danb at 2:15 PM on October 26, 2007


At the very least they have a lot of mics and are raising levels. Watching any of the post season games, you could even here players grunt, something I've never heard even from my best seats (granted I've never had "great seats") at 8 rows back.
posted by drezdn at 2:16 PM on October 26, 2007


Sometimes it's the graphics that have sound effects. Which is only a subtle difference, I admit.
posted by smackfu at 2:21 PM on October 26, 2007


I'm going to say no. I would not be surprised if they are adding some processing to make things sound fuller or more dramatic, but I don't think they are manufacturing sounds. That would a really difficult foley job, live, even on an 8 second delay (or whatever it is they could get away with). They regularly replay plays and say "let's see what that sounded like" on a hit by pitch or bang-bang play at first and although you can hear it, it doesn't sound juiced or fabricated at all.

Finally, when they show the bullpens and then switch back to the plate there is the slightest echo, just for a moment. You can really hear it when they are showing the Boston bullpen's rhythm nation stuff (which I find hilarious and charming, but is not the point). When they switch back to the main camera (and main mic) you can hear a tiny hiccup. because, I think, they are switching from the mic next to the bullpen to the mic at or on home place, 400 some feet away.
posted by dirtdirt at 2:24 PM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Watch the radar gun speed output and you'll see it glow orange on very fast pitches... I don't know if there's an accompanying whoosh or not there, but there are LOTS of little "interface" sounds associated with the games.

They've gone all out with "sounds of the game" though, micing players, coaches, listening in on mound visits and all of that, and it's pretty cool. I doubt they're futzing with actual game audio effects.
posted by disillusioned at 2:34 PM on October 26, 2007


The damn things hiss like angry rattlesnakes when they fly through the air, spinning so fast and catching air on the seams.

Yeah, they are loud, but this is a different sort of sound, more of a roar than hiss. It might sound like a roar, though, in the broadcast depending on where they have the mike and how jacked-up it is.
posted by Camofrog at 2:35 PM on October 26, 2007


You can see a parabolic microphone behind the catcher. I thought they were just magnifying sound, not making it up.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:46 PM on October 26, 2007


I've noticed that the audio in these big games is really "hot." They really crank up the compression to make a wall of crowd noise/ambiance, amping up the drama.
posted by zsazsa at 2:48 PM on October 26, 2007


There's also a couple mics buried at field level - I believe there's a home plate one in the same location as that buried home plate cam, and I know there's one at/on/under second base. Plus, the home plate umpire is mic'd, so that may pick up the angry bee of a Papelbon fastball as well.

I generally hate Fox and their whizzy everything-must-have-a-noise graphics, but i do like the enhanced sound from the bajillion mikes.
posted by pdb at 2:50 PM on October 26, 2007


Second the parabolic mic behind home plate, and it was there during the ALCS too. I don't watch Fox during the regular season, but I do have DirecTV's MLB Extra Innings package with FSN regional games.

I can tolerate Fox's sound (other than it comes with Tim McCarver) but I'm really tired of their close-up shots of the pitcher's and batter's eyes. When the Yankees were in their hot years, Fox showed Andy Pettite's eyes peeking over his mitt so often I was having Andy Pettite nightmares.

I'm waiting for McCarver to start analyzing Josh Beckett's skin care routine, because you know it's just a matter of time.
posted by lambchop1 at 3:27 PM on October 26, 2007


They definitely raise the level when a pitch comes in; that's why right around the sound you hear of the ball hitting the catcher's mitt you also hear the crowd sound swell dramatically and quickly.

It could be a combination of the swell in ambient crowd noise, the ball whizzing toward the plate, and the catcher's mitt.
posted by blastrid at 3:43 PM on October 26, 2007


I imagine a parabolic mic was how they got Royce chatting with Coco saying "I ain't got my taco," so yeah, thirded.

Now you got me wanting to hear a fast ball in real life.
posted by Tacodog at 4:04 PM on October 26, 2007


Ah, I take that back. In the clip with Royce telling Jacoby about the Taco Bell offer, they say Royce is wearing a mic. Jacoby ended up stealing second base in the next game.

Still, that plastic dish behind the catcher is a parabolic mic and I bet that's how they pickup the sound of the fast ball.
posted by Tacodog at 4:10 PM on October 26, 2007


Yeah, they raise the levels, but since TV is gain limited, that means that they're not really raising the upper limit, but compressing everything and shifting it up, which also helps make it sound more dramatic.
posted by klangklangston at 4:12 PM on October 26, 2007


Now you got me wanting to hear a fast ball in real life.

High-end pitching machines can throw you some balls at 100mph, with the benefit that you get to stand right there in the box with zero chance of actually hitting 'em.
posted by Camofrog at 4:34 PM on October 26, 2007


i've noticed this as well, and disillusioned is on the right track.

fox puts sound effects on all the transitions for its onscreen graphics. listen carefully when they come back from commercial... the appearance of the info bar across the top of the screen has all sorts of sound effects as it animates into place.

on this info bar, the pitch speed shares the same spot as either the count or the number of outs. in any case, when the pitch is over 95mph, they play a little flame animation and turn the pitch speed area red. the whoosh you're hearing is the foley for this flame effect.

as others have noted, live pitching is indeed louder than you'd expect. but the info bar foley explains why you only hear the whoosh when the pitcher "burns one in".
posted by bruceo at 6:28 PM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


on this info bar, the pitch speed shares the same spot as either the count or the number of outs. in any case, when the pitch is over 95mph, they play a little flame animation and turn the pitch speed area red. the whoosh you're hearing is the foley for this flame effect.

Bruceo, that might be it. Slaving the foley and animation to the radar can't be that hard. Cool. Sometimes I lose track of the game because I get caught up in how they cover it.
posted by Camofrog at 10:09 PM on October 26, 2007


Now you got me wanting to hear a fast ball in real life.

I live five minutes from a ballpark where the Diamondbacks and White Sox play their spring training games. Usually I just sit somewhere in the outfield for that elusive chance to catch a home run ball.

One evening, though, I was walking around the concourse behind home plate when Curt Schilling was pitching to Frank Thomas, and he was bringing the smoke. You do hear that ball hiss on the way over. When it hits the mitt, not only do you hear what sounds like a rifle shot, but you can feel that ball hit the catcher's mitt deep down in your bones. You find yourself wondering how the catcher doesn't get knocked down by the sheer force of the pitch. These things make up the sensory wonder of a major league, 97 mph fastball.
posted by azpenguin at 12:23 AM on October 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Good question and a lot of interesting answers.

I can tolerate Fox's sound (other than it comes with Tim McCarver) but I'm really tired of their close-up shots of the pitcher's and batter's eyes.

Hey, I won't tolerate any knocks on McCarver, who's far and away the most knowledgeable broadcaster around, but otherwise, yeah. And you know what else gripes my ass? When they cut away from the action for a five-minute interview with a manager or coach and just let you wonder what's happening on the field. Oh well, when the manager has finished explaining about his morning routine or equivocating about how his pitcher is doing, they'll show you a replay of the hit you missed, so I guess it's all good.

Fuck Fox.
posted by languagehat at 11:24 AM on October 27, 2007


McCarver, who's far and away the most knowledgeable broadcaster around

These guys would like to have a word with you.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 7:02 PM on October 28, 2007


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