President of Los Angeles Kings Luke Rubitael He had just seen the future.
It was a Stanley Cup playoff in May, and the Kings were putting up some stunning images on the arena’s video screens, complete with holograms of the players.
“It was really cool,” said the Hockey Hall of Fame. “The guys were getting off the ice, and changing. And we had mascots dance on top of them during that.”
“You kind of had to do double-task. It’s something different that no one’s seen before. But as an organization, we feel it’s important to try new things.”
In this case, the new thing was the Metaverse, a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social interaction. Or, more specifically, bring Kings to those new frontiers by becoming the first NHL team to use volumetric technology to photograph their players.
The Kings has partnered with Tetavi, an Israel-based company, to create two videos demonstrating the immersive technology potential of the Metaverse.
Tetavi acquired her own mobile production studio and set it up at the Kings training ground in El Segundo one April day. Los Angeles players, like I’m KopitarAnd the Philip DanaultAnd the Adrian KempeAnd the Victor ArvidsonAnd the Trevor Moore And the Alex Yavalo, skiing at full speed while eight cameras were filming their movements. The same process was used to depict Bailey, the mascot of the Lion of Kings, beating a drum and dancing around it.
Take a look at how the Kings are creating with immersive new technology on video screens in their yards.
In the past, this type of project would have had players heading to a remote studio to shoot all day. The Kings marveled at how Operation Tetavi took four hours from preparation to filming on their training ground. Especially since the players were in the midst of an intense clincher race.
Using footage and its own machine learning technology, Tetavi has modeled players and mascots in their studios. The final product was shown during the Kings Series match against the Edmonton Oilers.
“It has been a pleasure working with the players and Billy to bring this in-game activation to life, and we have ambitious plans to increase engagement for Kings fans around the world,” said Gilad Talmon, CEO of Tetavi. “This is a major step in our mission to democratize volumetric technology.”
The videos were projected onto the arena’s video screens instead of on virtual reality headsets. It was just a taste of what a volumetric capture could produce. But it wasn’t hard to imagine a fan immersing themselves in the Metaverse as 3D Kings players circle around them or as an expanding army of Baileys drums around them.
“When they brought it to us, we thought it was an opportunity to create a different vision of in-game entertainment and a different outreach to the fans,” Robitaille said.
He couldn’t help but imagine what might happen next.
“I see the possibility of having an element after the game where the fans can be next to the players,” he said. “You can see where we can create fun things where people are behind the bench or they are in the penalty area with the players. It’s going to be a really fun part of the game that no one has seen before.”
The NHL is just dipping its collective toes into the Metaverse. While the Kings were playing with volumetric capture technology, the St. Louis Blues debuted at the NHL’s Metaverse shopping experience. Featuring an immersive Metaverse experience that can be accessed from any device, The Blues Experiential Reality features a photo-realistic 3D locker room that served as a merchandise showroom.
The association is working with companies on ways to watch games with an Oculus headset using ball disc technology and player tracking in the NHL, and believes this is a gateway to more involvement in the Metaverse.
Many of the NHL’s VR innovations are geared toward younger fans.
“How do we create an added experience for children in the game?” Dave Lehansky, the NHL’s executive vice president of business development and innovation, thought about the technology fair in New Jersey earlier this year. “What we want to do is take that experience and add things that people haven’t thought of before.”
Robitaille admitted this but doesn’t think technology alone will appeal to young fans. It must be worth their time.
“You’d be lying if you said you weren’t trying to reach a younger audience,” Ropitel said. “But I think what’s important for us is to try something new and take risks.
“If you do it right, people will look for it. Better than a gimmick to get kids in. These kids aren’t fools. They know what’s cool. They buy Coachella.” [tickets] Before they even know which bands are playing.”
The NHL expects there will be more forays into the Metaverse from teams this season, as they are interested in how the technology works and how it can be incorporated into their marketing plans and communication with fans.
Robitaille expects the Kings to continue to be one of those teams at the forefront of experimentation.
“When you come up with something, you can call the Los Angeles Kings and we’ll give it a try. I think that’s important,” he said.