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ROSSETTI Brings Ford Field to Your Smartphone

The NFL Detroit Lions announced a $100,000,000 renovation project to 210,000 square feet of suite, club, and lounge spaces within Ford Field. ROSSETTI was approached by the football club to produce renderings and animations, using a variety of technologies to design and conceptualize the spaces.

ROSSETTI began using VR, or virtual reality, in 2013, and has since integrated it into their design process. It gives the design team the ability to review the space in 3D and assists in making crucial alterations for details and materials. VR also brings a "wow" factor to presentations, giving the client a chance to immerse themselves within the space long before its built.

Martha Ford liked what she saw. The 91-year-old matriarch of the Ford familyand owner of the Detroit Lionstried on the VR headset to view the renderings, which was a highlight of the presentation to team management. Ford, whose grandfather founded Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, is no stranger to innovation.

When the Detroit Lions began planning the renovation reveal to their customers and press, they commissioned ROSSETTI to create 3D animations for a sizzle video showcasing three of the new spaces, which included new suites and social spaces. They also allowed customers to try on the VR headsets during the event and gifted a Lions-branded Google Cardboard headset.

ROSSETTI produced four immersive 360-degree views of the renovation, displaying the upgrades to the suites, Corner Bar, and the South Club. The Lions were able to integrate the VR experiences into their mobile app for use on Google Cardboard. This allowed fans to experience the new spaces on their mobile devices, creating an exciting, unique introduction.

Flying Through Space

Animation allows the camera to ‘fly through’ a space and see a space in realistic detail. Although it’s two-dimensional, it creates an exciting visual effect. The Lions requested ten-second animation clips of the new Corner Bar, Grid Iron Club, and the Lounge. ROSSETTI worked closely with the Lions' video marketing team to create sequences that would be integrated into a larger, all-encompassing piece.

The animation process is multifaceted and complex. The still renderings provide a single viewpoint, akin to a stage set; individual models need to be stitched together so that the animator can fly a camera through the space without any gaps in the model. At this point in the process, the design has been documented in Revit and the completed 3D model can be exported from that program. The animator then ‘cleans’ the model of superfluous architectural data and updates materials for optimal rendering speed.

Over 2,000 frames need to be rendered, with a single frame averaging ten minutes. The frames are composited in Adobe After Effects and the sequences are edited together in Adobe Premiere Pro. The Lions marketing team took the videos and stitched them into a larger video, uploading the individual sequences to the domain, giving the public a sneak peek inside the new premium areas.  

A (More) Personal Experience 

Virtual reality (VR) is an exciting way for the client to experience the design in an immersive way. By rendering an image as a 360-degree panorama, the designers and clients have the opportunity to better navigate the proposed space, allowing more nuanced critiques.

It didn’t take long for the Lions to realize the power of VR.

As the marketing team searched for methods to enhance the unveiling, VR provided a unique experience and an opportunity for a takeaway. The VR was a perfect avenue to showcase the upgraded premium experience.

The 360-degree panoramas were rendered with 3ds Max, utilizing V-Ray rendering software. V-Ray includes a stereoscopic camera helper, which splits a single camera into two cameras spaced about two-and-a-half inches apart (which is roughly the distance between your eyes). This technique creates an enhanced depth of field.

The rendered images of the new premium spaces at Ford Field can be viewed in a number of ways; for instance: the raw images can be loaded onto a Samsung smartphone, and viewed on the Gear VR device—a wearable headset. The images are then converted to a video file encoded with 3D metadata.

The process that ROSSETTI designers take to modify still renderings to animation to virtual reality took about two weeks. The variety of viewing options created an enriching experience for hundreds of fans at the unveiling event at Ford Field, and continues to delight through video animation and VR clips on YouTube.

Staying on this path, both ROSSETTI and the Lions will remain ahead of the pack as VR continues to grow in mainstream popularity.