Brett Singer Talks Entertaining Troops Overseas with a Virtual Reality Chicago Cubs ‘Gameday Experience’
360-video production turns the lyric “Take me out to the ballgame” on its head in this spotlight on one of Bottle Rocket Media’s most meaningful project of 2018. Working with the Chicago Cubs, and with sponsorship support from Boeing and the U.S.O., they were challenged to create a one-of-a-kind 360 Immersive Gameday Experience at Wrigley Field, designed to take the ballgame out to thousands of wildly deserving overseas military personnel.
Thanks to the advent of VR gear, troops stationed in Germany were given exclusive access to every corner of Wrigley Field during this custom 360 experience. Viewers get to sit in Cubs dugout, stand in the batter’s box during batting practice, be right on the field during the national anthem, and even a sing-along with Cubs Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg, – all accompanied by eye-popping, graphics that tell the story about Wrigley’s history and some other fun facts along the way.
Creating an immersive Wrigley Field experience for the nation’s armed forces was both a dream-come-true for many at Bottle Rocket, and an extremely worthy use of a technology that is “still in its infancy”.
How did this project with the Cubs come about? Also, go Cubs!
Just before the start of the 2018 season, the Cubs reached out to us about the possibility of creating a 360 experience during Spring Training. It was an exciting email to get. We had some great conversations but, unfortunately, that project never came to light. A few months later, they reached back out with an opportunity to create an experience, specifically for the men and women serving in the US Military overseas. Boeing and the USO were the sponsors.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time at Wrigley myself and I’ve seen first hand what a close relationship the Cubs have with military personnel. A few times a month they have military appreciation days. I knew this was an important project to them. We were one of several firms vying for the job and we were over-the-moon when we were awarded the job.
Can you briefly describe the ‘experience?’
The point of the virtual/360-video technology is to immerse the viewer in an alternate reality, so to speak. When you put on a 360 headset you feel like you’re standing in that experience. Our viewers would get to feel what a day at Wrigley feels like. From walking into the gate at Clark and Addison, walking by the concession stands and coming up to the field. We put them in the dugout, on the field, in the bleachers, and they even get to be in the press booth during the Seventh Inning Stretch and be just feet away from Ryne Sandberg as he sings ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ in full view of the entire stadium. We even got to go into the Cubs clubhouse and hi-five a player!
Thanks to funding from the project’s sponsors, 2,500 Google Cardboard headsets were handed out to overseas soldiers and their family. With those headsets they all will be able to receive an experience that most attendees don’t usually get.
As we filmed, every viewer was able to see exactly what we were seeing as if they were right at Wrigley with us.
What does this experience mean to you and what does it say about the future of VR/360?
The idea of combining our passion for video production with our philanthropic model – and all at Wrigley Field – was an opportunity of a lifetime. We had no choice but to knock this one out of the park. I couldn’t be more proud of our team. We all are honored to have been a part of this project. In fact, it was such a success that the Cubs made their own video tribute to the event (see below). Maybe, they’ll let us back to do a spring training video… 🙂
We’re always looking for opportunities to continue working at the forefront of 360 video, an area that is still evolving. It’s not every day that the technology can be applied so perfectly and for such a good cause! Ultimately, however, I do think the future of 360 video will continue to involve immersive virtual reality experiences more and more—and our invitation to help the Cubs last year just highlights a demand already on the rise.
What was the best part of filming at Wrigley Field?
After we filmed the batting practice, which they had setup just for us to film, they asked if we’d help them collect the balls. So our whole crew got to run around the outfield at Wrigley, picking up the balls. IT WAS AMAZING!! We took lots of photos. What aday. Really proud of how it turned. We all are.
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