The Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit is a yearly event that brings leaders, founders, and entrepreneurs together to share how they’re bringing disruptive new innovations to their industries.
For the event's closing party at Comerica Park—home of the Detroit Tigers— Microsoft and Accenture enlisted bully! entertainment to create a memorable experience for event-goers that showcased the “Art of the Possible” and reinforced the brands’ status as leaders in innovation.
And so, with the ballpark as the backdrop to tell a story, we set out to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience using Microsoft technology.
Do you ever imagine yourself facing down a Major League fastball? To see it barreling down at 100mph?
It's an experience that few ever see up close, but with mixed reality via Microsoft HoloLens 2, we brought that thrill to life, allowing attendees to feel what it’s like to Face the Pitch.
The plan came together quickly. At Microsoft’s Volumetric Capture Studio in San Franciso, Microsoft’s team leveraged proprietary technology to capture the footage. One actor was enlisted to play the role of both the pitcher and catcher. Each role was shot individually, and the resulting 3D assets were optimized for the HoloLens.
Our challenge, then, was figuring out how to precisely place the experience on the field (without access to the venue ahead of time) and time the models’ actions.
Although we did not have prior access to the venue, we knew the standard distance between home plate and the pitcher’s mound (60’ 6”). This helped us to develop an overlay system that would spawn the pitcher and catcher so that they aligned perfectly with their real-world surroundings.
We also needed to consider the speed and trajectory of the CGI ball (added in afterward), so we could time the catcher’s split-second response and give the impression that users were really seeing a ball flying toward them at 100mph. Finally, a thematically-appropriate UI and sound effects of a roaring crowd completed the experience.
On the day of the event, attendees would take turns entering mixed reality and standing on home plate to see the scene unfold.
The end result was a home run with Summit attendees! Throughout the entire 4-hour event, long lines for the experience stretched across the field.
The experience was so immersive that, when it was their chance to Face the Pitch, nearly every guest struck a batter’s pose and swung for the fences. This happened time and time again despite there being no prompt for guests to interact with the experience.
By taking advantage of the real-world venue and combining it with realistic digital elements, we successfully showcased both the technical capabilities of the HoloLens and the power of this technology for immersive storytelling.