The Carolina Panthers entered the world of augmented reality (AR) after the them showed fans a 30-second clip of a “mixed-reality” panther pouncing onto the scoreboard and tearing the opposing Jets’ team flag at midfield before kickoff during their first game of the NFL season last week.
While the panther wasn’t actually in the stadium at all, the live mixed-reality show created by The Famous Group presented a three-dimensional type experience for fans inside Bank of America Stadium.
“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,” Jon Slusser, owner of The FamousGroup, said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “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.”
The clip the Panthers posted on Twitter has garnered more than 5.7 million views, nearly twice the number of followers the Panthers account has, and has generated more than $60,000 in value for the franchise and its partners, per Sportico.
‘A panther running around the stadium’
The Famous Group created an AR video for the Baltimore Ravens football team in 2019 which featured a Raven soaring across the stadium. However, the Panthers video has drawn even more attention because the panther interacts with its surroundings, Slusser said.
“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.”
Video presentations like this can take about two months from ideation to show time, he explained, with a large portion of the presentation falling on the live production. As the virtual panther is rendered into a live feed, a camera person follows the animation movements around the stadium in the same way they’d track a player on the field.
Slusser believes the technology is advanced enough to do much more with the panther and AR in general. His company has already used similar tech to create an AR promotional race in NRG Stadium for the Houston Texans football team and the Famous Group has also seen “unbelievable interest” from other companies since the Panthers video aired on Sunday.
It’s just the beginning, Slusser argued, because just like a video game, mixed reality experiences can be whatever the creator chooses.
“We just have a panther running around the stadium,” Slusser said. “When you really start thinking about the creative possibilities for both entertainment, sponsorship, promotion, information, and data that can be put into the scene, it’s very very powerful technology. And I think it will be the standard moving forward in broadcast.”
Josh Schafer is a producer for Yahoo Finance.