by Joe Ready | The Associated Press
One of Molly Solomon’s favorite memories from the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics was seeing Lindsey Vonn at the start house. The cameras will focus on the skiing, with the microphones holding her breath as she listens to the final instructions.
With no spectators in the stands during the Tokyo Games, Solomon is hoping to take more of those moments.
The executive producer of the NBC Olympics said the network would not add additional crowd noise to its coverage. Hopefully fans will hear the games as they haven’t before, whether it’s the action in the pool while swimming or the interactions between competitors and coaches during gymnastics.
“You look at gymnastics and think about the specific intricacies of each equipment, and we really feel like we will be able to bring audiences closer to the athlete experience in Tokyo than ever before,” Solomon said, who is on his 11th assignment. Olympics for NBC.
The only crowd noise that spectators can hear is ambient crowd noise that venues can use to create an atmosphere for athletes.
With over 300 events in the Olympics, it would be a nightmare for NBC and the Olympic Broadcasting Service, which provide world feeds, to layer in the noise of the crowd, especially as each sport has its own tempo and tempo.
Solomon noted that during the breaststroke race in swimming, fans blow the whistle during the race. In that the layering will be on top. Most venues will play some sort of sound track to simulate crowds or attendance, but only to prevent complete silence and for competitive reasons.
“We’ve got to know that we’ve got access to all of these field-of-play microphones. So, we really feel like we can amplify the sound of the games. But you can get away with any crowd presence. What is actually being injected into the venue. You will hear it when the athletes hear it,” she said.
Terry Gannon, who broadcasts gymnastics, said that due to the lack of crowds, some changes would be needed to the announcers’ events.
“There are certain things that you do as an announcer as you pretend and wait for the crowd. Now you don’t have crowds and you probably have to come in immediately,” he said.
With friends and family unable to watch at venues, NBC is deploying production teams across the country to capture their reactions. The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee has established a base at Universal Resorts in Orlando, Florida.
Other broadcasters are taking a different approach. Australia’s Seven Network says it plans to reduce crowd noise as it gives fans a level of familiarity.
“We will be using the crowd effect in our Olympic Games coverage to enhance the spectator experience,” said Lewis Martin, head of Seven Network Sport. “These influences have been successfully refined in our coverage of the AFL (Australian rules football) over the past 18 months, while we have worked tirelessly to meet the response of our audience, whose primary expectation is simply that they will compete in the competition they are playing. Looking at the sounds and they look like the game they know and love.”