TAMPA, Fla — When you watched the Super Bowl Sunday night, you heard the roaring sounds of a full-capacity crowd, even with less than half the typical number of fans in the stands at Raymond James Stadium.
That's because a sound mixer was bringing a little help.
Vince Caputo, the head sound mixer at NFL Films, filled the stadium with pre-recorded sounds from NFL games in pre-pandemic times.
Caputo told CBS News that he uses a simple, portable setup.
"A laptop and an audio interface, and a small controller. And we built it into a road case," he said.
Most of the time, he just adds to the ambiance of the crowd with a dull roar, but when something good or bad happens he can trigger specific crowd reactions.
Does it really make a difference for the players? Professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University Laurie Holt thinks so.
"Having that kind of sound kind of boosts the kind of camaraderie and tribalism of sports, of feeling like they're surrounded by many other humans, which is probably something we're in need of this year," she told CBS.
The NFL has had some practice in preparing the sounds for the big game. Each team had its own sound-machine operator that adding crowd sounds throughout the last season.
Caputo said it was challenging anticipating when to fire the right reaction.
"So, when that pass is getting close to the receiver, you wanna start cheering then, not waiting to make sure that he catches it," he said.
Caputo was one of two soundboard operators bringing the noise to Raymond James Stadium on Sunday night. They actually added new sounds for kickoffs, punts, and extra points.
Even with this creative solution, Caputo hopes to never have to use the NFL crowd machine after Super Bowl LV.
"That's what we're all hoping for: full stadiums of people. As fun as this was, there's nothing that replaces real NFL fans. And if we get to put this thing on the shelf, and never see it again, that's actually a win."
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