Sound & Video Productions Keeps Sports Sounding Fresh

By Dan Daley SVG Audio Editor
Sports venue scoreboard operators are always looking for new ways to capture the attention of fans with sound effects. “There’s
no absolute trend in the sounds played at games,” says Fran Kowalski, Sound & Video Productions co-owner. “Some
teams, like the Philadelphia 76ers and the Dallas Mavericks, love to
push the envelope in terms of sounds and effects. Other teams can be
conservative, playing the same clips year after year, because the fans
know them and respond to them.”

Kowalski’s company now offers Pro Audio 6, an updated version of Sound
& Video Productions’ SFX and audio presentation system, is now available with more than 5,000 on-screen buttons, a nonlinear wave editor, the ability
to batch-capture MP3/WAV files, as well as a sound-over-sound and crossfade
capability, and broadcast-quality playback.
What
do leagues want in terms of audio clips for home games? “More of the
same but different,” says Sound & Video Productions co-owner Fran
Kowalski, without a trace of irony. An example of how to solve that
conundrum is found in the company’s latest sound library, where Kowalski
had a salsa music arrangement of familiar “cheers,” the sound
clips used to get fans up on their feet, drawn up and performed by
top Latino musicians. He did the same with a roster of top Nashville
studio players, including the legendary Buddy Emmons on pedal steel
guitar, for countryfied versions of time-tested cheers.
Sound
& Video Productions’ audio clip libraries aren’t customized
for specific teams or leagues, though they do contain several versions
of each clip so that venues can tailor them to particular crowds. But
occasionally there is a bespoke production. Kowalski wrote and produced
for the Nashville Predators a track called “The Fat Lady Sings,”
a booming operatic production whose chant ends with, “It’s all over
now!”
“That one really caught on with the Preds’ fans,” he says.
Some
of the latest clips are new cheers with beefy arena-rock themes. When
introducing a new cheer, Kowalski says he’s learned one lesson:
always put a clap track on the clip. “The claps are the audience participation
cues,” he explains. “It’s a signal to the fans that this is their
part. You have to do it with a new and unfamiliar cheer.”
What
doesn’t work as well? The massively orchestrated military-like take-the-field
intros favored on television don’t play as well in person, says Kowlaski. “They seem to be a little over-the-top live,” he says.
But
most important, he says, is the person driving the system. “There
are a wide range of people in charge of audio clips for a game,” he
says. “The better someone is at sensing the mood of the crowd and
picking the right clips at the right time, the better the results are
going to be for the team and the venue.”