While no major League had returned to play, we knew that this problem would be solved in a variety of different ways in the months ahead. Our goal was to produce the best answer for the National Hockey League. Knowing that fan energy has always been an integral part of the game experience, how could we replace it while enhancing the at-home fan experience?
Our client, NHL Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer, expressed his vision for this new frontier of sports entertainment; we worked with him diligently to make it a reality.
Early on we decided against ‘faking’ an audience in the arena. It was no secret that fans would experience the games from home this year. Instead of masking off the empty arena or pulling the focus in to avoid filming the void we chose to push everything back from the ice – light it – and treat it with scenery. The result felt natural in the space, it enhanced the grandeur of the architecture and made the game feel expansive.
To address the empty seats we covered the first ten rows with a graphic wrap, the light color of the graphic allowed the puck to stand out against the background. We added layers of Semi-Transparent screens, lighting towers, and built a central stage as an iconic backdrop for play. The screens provided the perfect canvas for content from teams and fans to activate the arena in between play, the lighting design further energized the space and created hundreds of new looks that had never been possible for broadcast before.