First ever 3D Cam Carpets in football. Made in Germany.
Humble beginnings ... instant success
So that's me there on the football field. In 1999 at 22 in the BayArena in Leverkusen. Bloody young, bloody naive about professional sports marketing and as much a computer nerd as can be. I was asked to work on a concept that had been picked up from football in South Africa where people had simply rolled out flags next to the goal posts to support their teams. One of the large sports marketing agencies in EU football wanted to use the area next to the goal posts as additional advertising space, but regular banners were'nt an option and simple, flat mats wouldn't address the TV camera properly.
As I had previously created 6 3D models of football arenas in Germany for that agency and being familiar with the early existing 3D computer applications, I was asked to have a look at the issue. I set up a test scene in my 3D applications to better understand what I might need to do to align a printed mat, somewhere out there on the grass, to the perspective of the TV camera high up in the stands. It didn't seem too complicated and soon there was a printable file that looked rather odd, highly distorted and raised several eyebrows at the company where I was working at the time.
When the mat had been printed, we drove to the arena in Leverkusen for an initial test. I vividly remember rolling out the 4 parts of this huge graphic and aligning their edges. The next moment was to become a recurring moment in my life. Slowly walking up the stands towards the little TV house where the camera was located during games. Not daring to turn around and hearing the excited talk of that guy from the sports marketing agency behind me about how "it better work" and "how this would make everybody rich". Hey, no pressure...
Stepping up onto the balcony of the TV house, it was there... it was just there. A perfect banner, where there was none. A perfect illusion of a banner through the recalculated graphic. No distortions, no seams, no whatever faults. The marketing guy next to me jumped up into the air shouting "YES!". You could see the dollar signs in his eyes. He made me feel embarrassed. This was a success for the advance of 3D graphics, I thought. Not just yet another thing to sell.
Did I mention I was brave and naive? ;) I remember feeling proud and everybody patting my back, but I had to get out of there. The money talk just wasn't for me.
I told everybody I was going back down to the banners, making sure everything was alright. It felt better to take a break from all that excitement. That's what you can see there. A nerd on his newly printed mats which appear upright for the TV camera. And if you look closely in …the video … me smoking... in the BayArena in 1999. Those were the days ;)
Many more Cam Carpets followed and this form of sponsoring in football became a regular up until today.
I learned a lot about professional marketing and the business behind the playing field in the German premier football league in those days. Not knowing that just about one and a half years later, I would return to the very same place and once again walk up those stairs to the TV house.
Once again not daring to turn around, as about 18 months later, I had developed the first-ever seamless StairGraphics and the testing of their first installation would bring me back to that very same place.
Josef Hinterkeuser / Shapeshifter Media