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Ready, Set, Shine: How PixMob Creates Magical Pre-Game Jitters

PixMob has lit sporting events on several continents. No matter the different country and culture, there is always something very distinct and spectacular about a sports game. There is a universal language that all athletes and sports fans speak. It makes the energy at the game something truly special. This energy is amplified and becomes magical when PixMob is involved.

 

As a sports fan, you step into the stands with a predisposition for excitement. You are anxious to see your favourite team play, and are prepared to cheer at the top of your lungs. You see all of the other fans wearing the color and gear of your team and the excitement mounts. You feel an instant solidarity with everyone in the stands who is also cheering for your team. You see the opposing team’s fans and instantly feel competitive but also grateful they are there to antagonize you. You are ready to engage with them and build that ever so unique atmosphere that you only come across at sports gatherings with die-hard fans filling the bleachers.

 

As the sound of the whistle approaches and the pre-game entertainment is underway your pre-game jitters are at their peak. This is when the mysterious bracelet you were handed upon entering the stadium lights up. Just as you are amazed that the bracelet lights up, you realize the entire stadium is sparkling with flashing lights. You are in awe. You begin to scream, cheering louder than ever before, smile stuck across your face. The wristbands change color and the stadium shines in your team’s colours. Their logo even floats across the stadium; the bracelets have turned the attendees into a human screen.

 

This feeling is irreplaceable to any sports fan. The culture of feverously watching sports matches is not something new. We want to cheer our team on because we love to make them feel supported. These gatherings are an opportunity for people to come together in a simple, transparent fashion. We forget all motives except our love for our team. The energy that connects us to everyone else in the stand is a pure and sincere one.

 

PixMob is pivotal in creating this energy. The effects that our products create magnify this energy and connect crowds in a way that is otherwise not possible, especially in such large venues. Fans are united, stronger in their encouragement. The vastness of the stands is no longer impersonalizing. Rather it is a bright, unifying net that contains and propels the energy from the players and fans.

 

Best of all, PixMob leaves you with a souvenir that you can bring home. You can hold onto that energy that made you so giddy, and relive the magic at home.

Videos

 

The Creators Project

“The idea of PixMob was to think of people as pixel-wearers, they are going to create a light canvas,” says Vincent Leclerc, the CTO of PixMob, a design studio that focuses on turning live events into immersive spectacles by inserting LEDs in ordinary objects, subsequently making them magical. Whether it’s embedding LEDs in hats given out to Super Bowl XLVIII attendees in February, or creating colourful, blinking bracelets for concert-goers to wear at Tiësto’s Hakkasan residency in Las Vegas, PixMob is evolving cultural milestones into illuminated extravaganzas.

The Creators Project was fascinated in how PixMob create wearable LED devices that enable wireless, living artwork, and so they made a doc on the company that’s turning crowds into light paintings in real time.

Read the full article

just before the game

Behind the Scenes at the Super Bowl Halftime Show

Minutes before Bruno Mars took the stage to rock MetLife stadium and the 115 million fans watching from home, Halftime directors were understandably nervous. After months of planning and preparation, the penultimate moment was upon them – but there was a problem. PixMob directors were also experiencing a fair amount pre-game anxiety. The Montreal-based firm that lit up crowds at music festivals like Coachella and Osheaga with state-of-the-art crowd activation technology had a new challenge worthy of the grand stage that is the Super Bowl.

Rewind several months: In March 2013, David Parent, CEO of PixMob, decided to pick up the phone and pitch the NFL on a brand new technology being developed by his company, PixMob. Formerly known as Eski Studio, PixMob is the brain child of Parent and his business partner, Vincent Leclerc. The creative minds at the Montreal-based company develop innovative ways to connect crowds and reinvent the fan experience. PixMob VIDEO, the most recent invention, was what Parent was bringing to the NFL.

Intrigued by the concept, the NFL booked Metlife stadium in New York for a demonstration.  The PixMob crew arrived with test equipment, test pixels and a team of technicians – but, as with many new technologies, there was some nervousness as to whether the technology would work as planned. The team armed themselves with four hours of video content to show the production team. In the end, it took just ten minutes to convince NFL producers that they were looking at the technology for the next Halftime show.

PixMob VIDEO : the preparation

tests

Over the next six months, the PixMob crew worked feverishly in its Montreal studio to build and perfect infrared transmitters destined for Rutherford, New Jersey. The result was PixMob VIDEO, a technology that allows show producers to create live video effects using the audience as a canvas. This patented and ground-breaking technology allows for real-time transmission of colour information onto any number of mobile pixels, in the form of wearable LED objects, at hundreds of thousands of individual locations. The entire system works off a run-of-the-mill Mac computer connected to a video server, which sends a video signal to pixels in the crowd, telling them what combination of colour they have to be at any given time. The effects and content displayed on this human video screen is limited only to the imagination of the designer sitting at the controls of this complex remote control system.

The VIDEO Ski Hat

Spectator view with Pepsi hat

Still, the transmission of invisible data is only one piece of the puzzle. The next issue to tackle was the design of a wearable object that could house each pixel, or LED circuit. PixMob designers eventually settled on a ski hat (or “tuque” in Canadian parlance), which would serve the dual purpose of protecting both heads and batteries from sub-zero temperature conditions.

The hat turned out to be a good choice. When PixMob technicians and programmers descended upon their new home away from home two weeks prior to the Super Bowl, so too did 2014’s longest snow storm.

the day after

For two weeks – nearly right up to game day – the NFL and PixMob were concerned that the driving precipitation would force the game to be postponed or moved. For PixMob, the snow and cold weather wreaked havoc on the relatively delicate process of dialing in powerful rays of invisible light. Still, the team stayed in good spirits, appreciating the moment and enjoying the experience. “No fun allowed” was the cheeky slogan of PixMobians during their two week adventure, playing up the otherwise stressful environment they were working in.  

When PixMob began this adventure, they weren’t sure of the fan reaction to the mysterious ski hats placed at each seat in the stands, enclosed in a package labelled with instructions to put the hat on for Halftime. As the key moment approached and the first effects were sent out to the pixels, the show directors and PixMob officials became concerned by the lack of, well, anything.  People were not wearing their LED hats! Without them, the effects and content preprogrammed to go along with the onstage performance of Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers would look less than ideal.

 

D-Day : PixMob VIDEO at the Super Bowl Halftime Show

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The PixMob team sprang into action, using the video server to create sweeping colour effects across the crowd. As the effects began to move around the stadium, catching the attention of fans, those not yet wearing hats rushed to put them on to become part of the largest video screen of all time. The show itself was a smashing success. Social media buzzed as fans took to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post pictures and comments about their LED hats..

As the rest of the PixMob crew proudly watched from a local pub in Montreal, a collective sentiment of joy and relief was felt amongst all the members of the staff. The relatively small company had grown exponentially as a result of this game-changing Super Bowl Halftime Show, opening a new chapter in its history. The whole team was excited to get back to work, looking for more ways to innovate and reinvent rituals – but first, it was time to celebrate.


Special thanks to :

Executive Producer  RICKY KIRSHNER

Supervising Producer  ROB PAINE

Director  HAMISH HAMILTON

Hippo Operator JASON RUDOLPH

Cast Field Director KRISTEN TERRY

Lighting Director DAVE GRILL

Multimedia Developers JAMES PATTEN

& JEAN-SÉBASTIEN ROUSSEAU

Industrial Designer SÉBASTIEN DALLAIRE

Lighting Designer BOB BARNHART

Rigging Coordinator STEVE THOMAS

Production Designer BRUCE RODGERS