That World Series Crowd Is Getting A Boost From LA Phil's Sound Designer
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By Darby Maloney and A Martinez
When the Dodgers take the field tonight for Game 4 of the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, only about 11,000 fans will be in the audience. That's roughly a quarter of what the Texas stadium could hold.
But, thanks to sound designer Fred Vogler and his team, those of us watching on TV will hear a crowd that sounds much larger.
"It's not a gimmick -- it's not a laugh track. We have a bunch of files -- sound files that we have spent a lot of time curating -- that we've turned into a big sound, a real, authentic sound."
In "normal times" -- pre-pandemic -- Vogler is the principal sound designer and the front of house mixer for the LA Phil. He's worked on their Hollywood Bowl and Disney Concert Hall shows for 18 years. Vogler told KPCC's Take Two that his team at Fox Sports is made up of other people accustomed to mixing sounds for live music performances.
"Fortunately I've spent a lot of time in the crowd. Most of the mixing I've done isn't backstage or in a booth somewhere. I'm out in the crowd. That's actually true for all the mixers that I have working with me. We're all performing arts mixers. So you know these guys have mixed Aerosmith and Sting, Santana, Depeche Mode and so their familiarity with how crowd reacts is really high."
Vogler and his team did a couple of demonstrations -- one at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and one at Dodger's Stadium. For each team they set up 12 huge banks of speakers and played crowd reactions to hypothetical home runs and double plays. The players loved it.
"To see the happy dance, the fist pumping thing -- that kind of thing -- was really the kind of excitement that we wanted to provide. We saw Justin Turner do it and Alex Wood. I think Justin even said something about adrenaline. It brought a little more significance to the at-bats and some of the things being done."
Fred Vogler says it's been a learning curve, but as they've honed their skills they hope they're bringing a bit of normalcy to live sports in this pandemic. He says that for sound design to really sound authentic you just want people to feel excited and engaged. Vogler says, "if people don't notice what we're up to, then that's a win."
Want to hear samples? Click to play the audio version at the top of this story, courtesy of our newsroom's public affairs and culture show Take Two.