Low crowd noise should hum underneath the game but that will not work if it does not blend with a change to camera angles.
Barham said he would put a camera in the home of a family of supporters of each team and, in Gogglebox style, cut to those shots of people celebrating to engender a sense of fan excitement and joy.
“The biggest thing is they have to change the camera cut. You need to lift the cameras up and have them shooting down at the ground at the moment they are low and shoot up and you see empty stands behind them,” Barham said.
“The cameras in the forward pockets are on the fence and shoot the action with the crowd behind it. Those cameras have to be taken up to level one and shoot down so you can get in tight on the player but when you are wider you see the grass and players.
“It’s a matter of retraining the directors and the cameramen. In a game of footy the directors have a pattern of football, it’s a sequence that ties the game together. They need to rethink that pattern and sequence and camera angle.
“You could put a buzz of crowd noise in and it would look and sound like a game. The sound will work if there are not too many shots of empty stands.
“It might not be as good but it will do is stop pointing out to you there is no one there.
“It’s worth a shot putting sound under it. I believe, I am not certain about this, but I believe in the late 80’s and early 90’s before crowds grew they put a crowd buzz under the broadcast because they wanted a consistency.”
He said broadcasters could try inserting a virtual crowd, but that would be difficult with football because it requires so many changes to camera angles. Virtual crowds, like virtual ads, work for single shots.
The experience without crowds in round one demonstrated the degree to which AFL is entertainment, and was less of a spectacle without fans in the stands.
The AFL and broadcasters will be worried that football rated well for the season-opener between Richmond and Carlton, but dropped off more than usual for the Friday night game. The concern is that fans whose team is not playing will be less inclined than normal to tune into a game of football that lacks atmosphere.
Football fans have also had months without football, and may have found other entertainment options in streaming services such as Netflix, Stan and Amazon.
Michael Gleeson is an award-winning senior sports writer specialising in AFL and athletics.