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NBA restart: How virtual fans are able to sit 'courtside' in the bubble – For The Win

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Welcome to FTW Explains: a guide to catching up on and better understanding stuff going on in the world.

If you tune into the NBA restart inside the Disney World bubble, you may have noticed something going on with giant screens behind the players. Yes, those are actual fans who are being projected as if they’re in virtual seats that are “courtside.”

It’s weird-looking but … actually kind of cool once you get over the initial shock of it all. So how does it all work? Glad you asked. We’ll explain the whole thing that has NBA fans buzzing on social media.

Wait, really? Virtual seating?

Yes! Isn’t technology amazing?

What does it look like?

And those are real people?

Indeed.

Okay, I’m hooked. How does this work?

The NBA has said each of the teams in the bubble will figure out how to invite who it wants to participate.

Then?

From USA TODAY:

Once teams select those fans, they will need a webcam and a microphone. They will log onto Microsoft Teams through their computer or phone. And then they will use Microsoft Teams’ new feature, “Together Mode.” That will enable the fans to interact with each other digitally throughout the game while they watch the broadcast feed. With this feature, fans can high five each other, hold out signs or react to anything that happens on the court. The NBA’s video-boards will show those real-time reactions.

What if there is bad behavior?

There are moderators in each “section” of fans who can virtually boot out die-hards who don’t follow fan guidelines. Per GeekWire, there are other fans waiting in the wings thanks to a “virtual overflow room.”

Okay. Has anyone noteworthy shown up there?

Why yes they have! It appears ex-Heat star Chris Bosh showed up for Lakers-Clippers on Thursday:

Do you really think this is cool?

As I said: kinda! It’s better than computer-generated fans. And I’ve watched the delayed reaction to the LeBron James game-winner a few times and was tickled. It’s better than nothing! Listen to that sound, too. Not bad!

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