The Halifax Mooseheads and the Cleveland Cavaliers are putting digital signage in play.
The Mooseheads, a hockey team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in Canada, and the Cavaliers, a basketball team in the National Basketball Association in the U.S., both recently turned to projection mapping technology to put on an in-venue digital signage light show for fans.
The Mooseheads worked with Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada-based Egg Studios to produce an on-ice mapping display prior to one of the team's games in the QMJHL playoffs earlier this month.
And then earlier this year, in March, the NBA's Cavaliers treated fans to a projection mapping display for a pre-game and halftime show on the night the team retired the jersey of former center Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
The Cavs teamed up with Herndon, Va.-based Quince Imaging for the projection display event that used a combination of 3D-mapping techniques and video content produced by the Cavs own QTV team and Think Media, according to the Quince website. The display used 16 HD projectors, the latest revision of coolux Media's Pandoras Box, version 5.5, and the newly released version of Warper, to align the video content to the graphic design elements on the Cavs' basketball court.
And fans also could interact with the light shot by live tweeting to two 16-foot-by-28-foot projection screens hanging above the court, the company said.
We've seen far more complex projection displays on three-dimensional surfaces such as casino and hotel facades, the surface of the water in swimming pools and even the EPCOT Spaceship Earth sphere at Walt Disney World in Florida.
But these deployments mark much more mainstream usages of the tech — and a novel approach for sports teams as they continue to try to innovate and change with regards to the live, in-venue sporting event experience.
As ticket prices increase and cable and satellite TV packages become more diverse in their sports offerings, stadiums and arenas are being pushed into an escalating arms race for making the in-venue experience worth the cost to the fan in terms of the money, time and effort involved in buying tickets, food and drinks and traveling to and from games.
And the fans and sports media are picking up on it.
"Technology can do some amazing things," wrote Kyle Newport on BleacherReport.com, about the Mooseheads display. "Sports teams are looking for new ways to get fans pumped up before games. As technology improves, the pregame videos do as well."
Sports Illustrated's Dan Treadway wrote in SI.com's Extra Mustard, "Regardless of the quality of play on the ice, I think that just getting to watch this show would easily cover the price of admission."
And, finally, The Washington Post's Cindy Boren was blown away by the Cavaliers' display:
"The Cleveland Cavaliers retired the jersey of Zydrunas Ilgauskas recently with a ceremony that was blend of the traditional and the cool — the very cool, thanks to 3D video that was projected onto the Quicken Loans Arena court before the game and at halftime."