NFL’s Carolina Panthers Go on the AR Prowl
There’s always excitement in the air when a new season of the National Football league kicks off in the United States.
The game’s crowning achievement, the yearly Super Bowl, is broadcast in 180 countries and watched by about 800 million people a year, and the league makes about $15 billion a year in revenue.
But at the home opener of the Carolina Panthers during Week 1 of the season, the team’s fans thought they were going to a football game until a monster movie broke out.Using some mixed reality magic and encouraging fans to use the team app on smartphones and smartwatches, the franchise added a giant-sized replica of the team’s mascot that leapt around the stadium, climbed on top of the scoreboard, ripped down a virtual version of the opposing team’s banner, and tore it to shreds on the playing field to the fan’s’ delight.
The mixed-reality showcase was created by The Famous Group, which seamlessly integrated the 3D panther for 30 seconds onto a live overlay of the stadium, where fans could see themselves on their screens, along with on the giant scoreboards at Bank of America Stadium. When the 3D panther pounced on the field, it looked to be moving among, or rather over, the players and personnel on the field.
“The reason this is going to be the future of animation is that we can manipulate the environment to the point where you don’t know what’s real and what’s not,”
said The Famous Group owner Jon Slusser, during an interview with Yahoo Finance. “These are video game elements rendered live in a live scene. And what we can do with that...this is just the tip of the iceberg.
”A video of the scene at the stadium has generated more than 10 million views in less than two weeks. It’s generated tremendous buzz for the Panthers, who are not expected to be one of the better teams in the NFL this season.
Carolina has had three losing seasons in a row, compiling a record of 17-31 since 2018.
This isn’t the first collaboration between The Famous Group and an NFL squad.
In 2019, the company created an augmented reality (AR) video for the Baltimore Ravens in which a virtual raven soared over the stadium. The Panthers’ product is an upgrade on that since the virtual animal interacts with real-time surroundings.
“When you see these 3D characters in a live shot, seemingly interacting with the stadium, with the field, with the goal post, it really throws you off,” Slusser said. “People haven’t really seen that before.”
Slusser said it takes about two months to create the entire effect, which is then done in coordination with the stadium’s production crew.
The virtual panther was rendered on a live feed, and a camera operator follows those movements around the stadium much like they would a player on the field carrying the football.