Autograph Sound has been able to add atmosphere to the game for clubs affected by Covid-19 who have been forced to play behind closed doors or with restricted crowd numbers.
Even without fans at full capacity, Leeds United and Queens Park Rangers from the Premier League and Championship respectively have partnered with Autograph Sound to generate a realistic atmosphere for their home games as clubs across the UK continue to play without supporters.
Covid-19 has proven to be unpredictable with inconsistency surrounding the number of fans being able to attend events, depending on the current climate. With Autograph, the sound can remain the same.
The UK-based sound operator has been running for nearly 50 years, expanding to football from previous work in the musical theatre and play industry. They’ve been able to support clubs with authentic cheers and chants that you’d normally hear on gameday.
Lockdowns in the UK meant that theatres were closed to the public, prompting Autograph to utilise their equipment in a different way. As football matches remained in play for professional clubs, the technology headed to empty stadiums.
Normally if you hear crowd noise with no spectators, it is done through the broadcaster. Autograph wanted to allow players, coaches and other staff to feel that same sense of realism, albeit with artificial noise.
Using staff from previous projects, Autograph got together with Leeds and QPR to create chants that can spread from multiple sections of the stadium. Watford FC goalkeeper Ben Foster does weekly videos for his YouTube channel where you can hear the QPR sounds in action via his GoPro when he played in goal away at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium (Loftus Road).
Noise can be heard for the pre-game build up, especially for a club like Leeds who have their own ‘Marching On Together’ song, as well as adapting to match scenarios throughout the 90 minutes such as goals.
Autograph collaborated with Fan Chants, a company that built a library of 26,000 unique football songs around the world. The extensive collection of sounds ensures that chants are naturally different with a great mix that you’d hear in normal circumstances.
Autograph will designate at least three people to a game so that they’re switched on to passages of play. Multiple computers can be used to control separate components of noise, with individual staff members to utilise the software.
The first of these staff control intensity levels, where sound is altered accordingly to situations in a match – scoring a last-minute winner will be significantly higher for instance. A second person can monitor club-specific chants that can reflect the excitement they’d usually feel. If a team is pushing hard on a counter attack, the crowd will lift accordingly. A third staff member has extra control to anticipate key moments for goals, corners, cards and any other game-changing moments. They can even adjust to VAR decisions with a cancel button for goals which have tentatively been given.
Games can be unpredictable at times, so the comprehensive coverage aims to make noise as free-flowing and realistic as possible to ensure sounds are adaptable to any situation.
Clubs in the UK have only been able to welcome back up to 2,000 fans at a time throughout the 2020/21 season, but they’re currently back to no spectators at all.
Even in the event of limited capacity in stadiums, the atmosphere is of course not as good. A partner like Autograph can deliver sounds of the game to help take your mind off the missing void of fans due to COVID-19.
Autograph are looking to work long-term with UK-based clubs to add crowd noise for games now and for the unforeseeable future with limited to no spectators in attendance. It’s a project that can enhance the overall feel of matches, where players and coaches can get the same level of excitement as someone would at home.
COVID-19 has been a challenging pandemic for nations across Europe, so Autograph are aiming to assist more clubs and leagues who are interested in getting their chants amplified in their home stadiums.
Until COVID-19 is fully under control, Autograph’s sound software is one way of getting around the unique and tricky situation of affected crowd numbers if lockdowns for sporting events are forced upon us.
You can find out more on Autograph Sound here.