Bears-Pats MNF Game To Transform Gillette Stadium With Help of MR Technology

(Image credit: Gillette)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass.—Fans tuning in to tonight’s “Monday Night Football” on ESPN and those at Gillette Stadium here are in for a bit of a visual surprise when mixed reality will be deployed to transform the venue into a new GilletteLabs razor and give everyone a preview of what stadium renovations will look like when done.


(Image credit: The Famous Group)

About seven minutes before kickoff of the game between the New England Patriots and the Chicago Bears, the 45-second spectacle will appear on viewers’ sets at home and the video display board on the south end of the stadium.

The $225 million renovation of Gillette Stadium is in addition to an initial update costing some $75 million, which included the south endzone side of the stadium.

The second phase of the renovation, expected to be completed before the beginning of next season, will feature what the Patriots are billing as the “largest video board for an outdoor stadium”—a 22,200-square-foot HD behemoth to be used for game action, replays and statistics—as well as a new glass-enclosed hospitality section and 360-degree connectivity for all stadium levels.

Tonight’s MR is a collaboration among Gillette, Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s The Kraft Group and The Famous Group.

“We’re excited to tap into our partnerships with the NFL and The Kraft Group to create a mixed-reality experience during a big game like Monday Night Football,” said John Claughton, Gillette vice president, North American Grooming.

“We are bringing forth our most innovative brand in the last decade, GilletteLabs, and showcasing it on screens across the country to highlight the GilletteLabs with Exfoliating Bar in a way that has not been seen before. It’s a way for us to showcase how GilletteLabs is truly at the forefront of innovation and technology for men’s grooming, not only with our products, but also with our marketing efforts.”

The Famous Group, a Culver City, Calif.-based virtual production creative firm specializing in mixed reality for events, relied on several tracking cameras, Pixotope Technologies camera tracking and the Unreal Engine to generate the MR experience.

The company created all of the visuals and creative using 2D and 3D tools, brought them into Unreal Engine where they were inspected and finetuned. Output of the MR was then made “broadcast-friendly” and tested extensively, The Famous Group said.

(Image credit: The Famous Group)
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The MR specialist relied on scans of the stadium and 3D files of the GilletteLabs Exfoliating Bar razor to create an illusion that will turn the venue green and transform into a massive razor in the middle of the field, it said.

The company’s artists also relied upon renderings of the stadium’s future renovation to create a holographic rendering of what the stadium will look like when work is completed. 

Internal tests prior to tonight’s presentation and on-site rehearsals have been completed to ensure every detail is just right and the MR experience comes off without a hitch, it said. 

The Famous Group has a track record of creating immersive fan experiences using the leading edge of graphics technologies. A few of its past projects and clients include 13 Super Bowls, the NFL Draft, the NBA finals, the NCAA Final Four and many non-sports-related creations. However, tonight’s display will be the first live commercial mixed reality experience during an NFL broadcast, the company said.

Kickoff follows the MR experience and is scheduled for 8:15 EDT.

More information is available on The Famous Group website (opens in new tab).

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.