Wheelhouse Creative LLC is loaded with team members who are not only talented at their craft, but avid sports fans.
Yet perhaps the person on staff most excited about the upcoming Super Bowl LVIII is a man who doesn’t follow sports much at all: video production specialist Dave Everly.
That’s because he knows what effect visual effects have had on the popularity of sports world-wide. He not only gets the correlation, but understands they help make sports – especially the National Football League – a sweet spot to place advertising.
Correction: THE sweet spot.
Most know of the millions of dollars spent on Super Bowl advertising. Many tune in simply to see the commercials.
Yet consider how visual effects draw in the audience for the game. For the games.
Understand it wasn’t too long ago there weren’t graphics on the screen like the score or time. The “screen bug” was only first introduced in 1994 when John Madden famously circled the innovation and explained what was then an amazingly complex deal. Believe it or not, there was some backlash from sponsors because they thought if the game was somewhat out of reach, viewers would tune out.
In 1998, perhaps the most important visual effects innovation came along: the yellow lines that tell viewers where the first downs are in football.
“In 1998 stadiums started 3D scanning their fields,” Everly said. “With computer software they could match the rotation in respect to their broadcast cameras. To get the players to walk over the lines you use a ‘Key’ which is very similar to how a green screen is used because the field is green.”
Indeed, the lines were put under the players, but over the turf through color filtering. Everly calls it the most important innovation because, “It basically drives the story of the game. Players must get from point A to point B to progress. It opened the world for anyone to watch the game and understand what is going on.”
The intersection of sports and visual effects then flourished. ESPN introduced the “K Zone,” which represents the batter’s strike zone with a camera above home plate and one above first base to get the path of the pitch. Each camera captures 60 ball positions per second. A third camera specifies the strike zone. A person on a joystick draws it for each batter.
Flip on NASCAR and you’ll see amazing technology using satellites and sensors for car position, fuel consumption, you name it.
But back to football.
In 2014, real time tracking became a thing with NFL Radio Frequency Identification or RFID. Two tags were placed under each player’s shoulder pads, as well as on the ball, pylons and officials. They are tracked and updated 10 times per second via 3D space, sky cams, etc.
There’s what’s called “Volumetric Capture” for Toy Story-themed animation football games. Coming up will be the first Nickelodeon Super Bowl simulcast.
You’ll see it all from the NFL on CBS for the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.
According to a tweet on X, “from drones to ‘doink’ cameras, we’ll be pulling out all the stops in Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII.”
What does that mean?
According to the tweet it means, 165 cameras, 24 4K-Zoom capable cameras, 20 pylon cameras, 24 robotic cameras, 48 super slo motion cameras, the first Nickelodeon Super Bowl simulcast, 23 augmented reality cameras, six “doink” cameras, five sky cams and fly cams, three drones and five shallow depth-of-field cameras.
We imagine after next Sunday we’ll wonder how we ever made it without “doink” cams.
Anyway, enjoy the upcoming Super Bowl and all the visual effects-enhanced sporting events you see. Appreciate all the wizards behind the effects that connect us deeper to sports.
And if you’d like to use those visual effects to draw clients to your business, be sure and call us at Wheelhouse Creative at 304-905-6005.