You might recognize one of their best-known creations during the 2021 NFL season opener between the Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets. Fans watching at home were immersed in the experience of seeing a 50-foot panther leap around the stadium and savage the Jets' flag. For those lucky attendees inside the Bank of America Stadium, the savagery could be seen in convincing detail on the Jumbotron.
This is what TFG does: create “wow” moments for sports fans whether they’re watching the game in person or at home. Their command of the art and science of mixed reality and virtual production puts TFG in a league of their own.
Who is The Famous Group?
While TFG’s origins were as a traditional post-production studio, they now consider themselves a creative technology company with a twist: using new graphics technologies to reimagine how live events are consumed. In TFG’s case, this is mind-bending mixed reality (MR) activations. But like any VFX artist will tell you, the visual should be part of the story, not a showcase for itself.
TFG is at the cutting edge of mixed reality thanks to their expertise, working with clients like the NFL, NBA, MLB, Nickelodeon, and others; all of whom want ever-more sophisticated MR “wow” moments. Expertise in thinking up the impossible helps but TFG also needs powerful and reliable tools to make it come to (virtual) life.
“I liken it a little bit to carpenter’s tools. Buying high-end tools as a novice carpenter doesn't help you. But once you reach a certain level of expertise, you’re able to leverage those high-end tools to enhance your performance because they’re built to withstand more and do more if you know how to use them. The same principle applies to what we’re doing: as your expertise increases, your demands on your tools increase.”
Erik Beaumont, head of mixed reality at The Famous Group
Pixotope provides the virtual production software that lets TFG do what it does best – create stories and avoid the burdens of patchworked systems: maintaining software and troubleshooting data storage, transport, and connectivity issues.
It all comes together to let TFG create some of the most talked-about fan experiences in the industry.
What goes into a “wow” moment?
Being in the business of “wow” moments means that TFG’s portfolio is full of them.
Aside from the Panther sequence, there was the giant Baltimore Raven that swooped over the stadium crowd at a 2019 exclusive Thursday Night game and and fire-breathing bulls on the field for the Houston Texans.
All were live activations with no margin for error.
By any measure, TFG's work has been hugely successful. The Panther, the Raven, and more have redefined terms like “buzz” and “hype.” In terms of benchmarking success, it's all about eyeballs and earned media (their Nickelodeon activation with CBS Sports was viewed more than 17 million times on social media on the first day alone).
For planning and executing such arresting scenes, it is crucial to have the right systems in place. TFG is a storyteller, not a software vendor, and while it's easy enough to download a game engine and acquire the tools to build your own pipeline, making them work together is another story. Pixotope fixes that with an out-of-the-box solution.
“We have huge expectations that are coming at us, viewers expect Hollywood-level effects and we have to deliver. My primary concern as head of mixed reality is being able to say ‘Yes, we can do that.’ I want to know I can make whatever the client requests look good, whether that’s getting the texture of Nickelodeon’s slime right or pinpointing the exact color and shine of an automaker’s lacquer.” If you're in the business of mixed reality, you don't just want to be at the cutting edge – you need to be. When a client wants something that's never been seen before (and don't they all?), TFG never wants to have to say no.
“With Pixotope, I have a high degree of confidence that almost anything a customer asks for, I can deliver.
Erik Beaumont, Head of Mixed Reality at The Famous Group
The opportunities afforded by “wow” moments
Fan and viewer attention are the high-water marks, but they represent something very tangible in terms of sponsorship: exposure. That means virtual production for fan engagement and experiences isn't a fad, it's a very compelling business case.
Then there are the means to educate: enabling sports or news broadcasters to present data or statistics in much more attractive and easily digestible ways than just onscreen text cards.
A good example is the NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon which presented the football to kids with onscreen MR graphics to explain plays and game rules while amping up the fun of the sport to draw new viewers.
The road ahead
The experiential sector, led by entertainment, is under constant pressure to go bigger and better as blockbuster movies raise the visual bar. Virtual production using mixed reality is the fastest way to reach and surpass that bar every time.
It can get complicated and tough to wrangle, and the last thing you want to spend money and man-hours on is more tech troubleshooting. Pixotope has already done the work building a virtual production platform. All that's left is for you to make your wildest ideas become reality.
Discover more about our solutions
For more information on how Pixotope Solutions can help you create your next viral sensation, get in touch.