Fan Controlled Football Gets Up-Close and Personal Audio
All players will be wired for sound in the FCF League’s second season
Call it Fan Controlled Football 2.0. The FCF League is about to embark on its second season, bigger and definitely louder than ever.
That’s in part because the league is doubling in size, to eight teams, and, although it will continue to play all games from a single location, this year that will be at a bespoke outdoor venue. The new 1,500-seat, 85,000-sq.-ft. arena at Atlanta’s Pullman Yards offers a mix of field-level lounges, luxury suites, and other seating designed to put fans close to the game action, physically mimicking the proximity of videogame players.
But it’s also because there will be lots more microphones in the mix. New this season, each member of each team will be wired with Q5X PlayerMics, eight per side, managed through a Shure Axient digital receiver.
“There’s a much better budget this year for everything, including audio,” says Jay Rabbitt, president, In Concert Productions (ICP), the Atlanta-based sound provider and subcontractor to primary production company Crazy Legs Productions.
ICP was brought aboard last year to provide comms and other audio-related services but eventually became its primary audio-systems provider, as well as providing an audio split to Ross Production Services’ RMP-6 mobile unit, which will handle microphones on officials separately, sending those and other sound-effects feeds to ICP for the PA mix. This year, ICP will reprise its roles and has also installed a 32-unit d&b audiotechnik V Series PA system with eight J Series subwoofers in the new venue. That system will get plenty of use, says Rabbitt.
“A lot of music [will be done] here for the games and concerts,” he says, adding that several teams are owned by music stars, including Quavo of Migos and DJ Steve Aoki, who will perform a show for the season opener and for whom ICP will bring in four additional subs. “There will be music played between plays, between quarters. The game is almost like a rap concert.”
A second, portable stage can be rolled out to midfield for concerts, and a DJ position is a permanent fixture. The live sound will be mixed through a Yamaha QL5 console, which will be located beneath the stage, part of an effort to keep the infrastructure as subtle as possible, says Rabbitt.
“The real challenge is, we have a pretty big space to cover and they want 110 dB in it but also want all those speakers to disappear,” he says, noting that FCF uses both drone and Skycam video.
That helps keep the field of play looking streamlined, like a Madden-type football game, although it adds to the obstacle course the sound system has to run. “If it was a game show or a reality show,” Rabbit adds, “they’d want the PA to be quieter, and we’d put speakers in the seats. But they want a loud, party atmosphere, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the look.”
FCF 2.0 kicks off April 16. Viewers can catch the action on NBCLX, the Peacock network’s new, mobile-first website built around “an immersive, single-page experience for the digitally savvy viewer,” as well as through online gamer portal Twitch.