When the Chicago Blackhawks were opening their flagship store, they needed a way to bring the excitement of the rink to Michigan Ave.
They teamed up with us to create a groundbreaking augmented reality experience that brought fans’ favorite players to the store, even if
they were playing an away game.
It Starts With A Really Big Screen
In order to augment reality to life-sized proportions, with lifelike clarity, we need a screen that was both big and fancy. Enter an 84” 4K video screen, perfect for displaying stars like Jonathan Toews in all of their glory.
Of course, without a way to capture the fans, our experience was woefully incomplete. In order to pair fan and player, we mounted our AR rig with a Black Magic 4K camera, allowing the two to be united.
Then It Gets Complicated
Setting up the hardware is the easy part. The challenge was turning a camera and screen into an immersive AR experience.
The physicality of the space was an issue. We were originally working with 10 feet, but that was reduced to seven, which cramped our quarters a bit. Plus, the lighting in a working storefront isn’t ideal for producing consistent video, particularly when you’re trying to key out a background to create a realistic composite image. We were able to adjust to these new constraints and get the smooth keying we were after.
From there, we had to figure out how to get these 4K signals from the camera and screen to a server room four floors away. An 800 ft HDMI cable wasn’t realistic, so we designed
a new hardware setup to relay the signal over the long distance we had to cover.
Despite all of the challenges, the finished installation turned out great, and is one of (if not the) first 4K augmented reality installations in the world!
Geomedia Laces Up
The Blackhawks were pretty clever when they hired us, because not only did we have the technical know-how to set up a 4K AR installation, we also happened to have a line on some pretty talented filmmakers.
Our camera crew came out and was able to shoot all of the players in various locations around the United Center, including the ice. Our turn-key production and visual effects outfit, coupled with our hardware geniuses, allowed us to take this project from the ice to storefront without having to call on any outside contractors.
If you’re in Chicago, you can check out the results of our work at the Blackhawks Store on 333 N. Michigan Ave. Otherwise, you can see some pictures below or on Twitter by following @BHStorePhotos.
Latest Related Projects
There’s plenty more to explore. If you want to embark on a project of your own, get in touch.