The Wolverhampton Wanderers football club is unveiling their new jersey design and kit at the Molineux stadium. The team was looking for ways to engage guests at the venue through immersive technology combined with social media marketing. The team sent us the materials for a life-size poster of their players in the new kits that would be unveiled at the stadium. We proposed the idea of an AR experience that would allow people to scan the poster to see the players walk out of it and pose for a photograph with them. The experience was located by the souvenir shop where the new kits were on sale for all the fans to see.
I was involved with in the project from beginning to end, responsible for gathering client requirements, educating them about augmented reality, it’s limitation, building the AR experience and integrating the feature sdk into the main club app.
The experience involved focusing on a life-sized poster of three football players with a mobile camera to have the players step out of the poster and into AR space and interact with the viewers. The aim of the experience was to engage the audience at the venue and use emerging technology to foster social media sharing and brand awareness.
We collaborated with the Wolves prior to the shoot for the poster to ensure that we would be working with footage of high precision and quality. We went over best practices for capturing reliable green screen footage that would be prepared for keying on-the-fly and also appropriately scaled for the space. This implementation of green screen video in AR would be a more nuanced version of Yinzcam’s previous products which involved handheld pop up videos or life-size billboard videos.
The footage was carefully matched with the player’s pose for the poster and overlaid to test for accuracy. We had to adhere to space constraints since the feature would be housed in the official Wolves mobile app, so videos would have to be carefully compressed without compromising quality. We also decided to forgo using HAP video with alpha channels and instead opted to use a custom Unity shader that would key out the green background in real-time. For this purpose, the videos were keyed manually and then re-exported with a flat bright green background that is optimal for live keying.
Video of the experience:
The development process started with concept exploration and gathering requirements. Wireframing and prototyping to perform quick test and do some playtesting to make sure we can achieve the best user experience.
The experience was built as a standalone application and then integrated into the main club app, went through an exhaustive QA process where we tested on various different devices and then submitted to the play store and app store.
We built the experience using the Unity game engine and EasyAR for image recognition and tracking. The poster image would be split into three slices; one for each player. Each slice was used as an image marker that Easy AR would detect and track for the length of the experience. The poster design by the wolves was very suitable for image tracking given the high contrast between the bright jerseys and the dark background and the sharp outline of the players. This generates a greater number of feature points that the algorithm can easily track with accuracy.
We went through multiple iterations of testing to make sure the illusion of the player stepping out looked accurate and realistic in the space. We also tested for optimal positioning of a person in the camera feed so the interaction with the player would seem natural. To assist the users in achieving this, the Wolves built platforms in front of the poster specifically for guests to stand on, as well as position markers for the guest operating the mobile camera.