The Famous Group, the Colorado Avalanche, Chipotle, and Turner Sports teamed up to break the ice like never before during the Avs’ second round Stanley Cup Playoff series opener against the St. Louis Blues at Ball Arena in Denver on Tuesday. The game featured the NHL’s first ever usage of mixed-reality technology for broadcast viewers as a Chipotle branded Zamboni brought out a giant burrito bowl and fork to the middle of the rink and a giant hockey glove then burst through the ice, grabbed the bowl, and submerge itself back under the ice.
The mixed reality ad, which incorporated the messaging “Real Food for Real Athletes”, ended with the hockey glove reemerging, hungrily pawing for the fork, and finally holding it up in victory. The virtual sponsorship element could be seen by fans at the arena on the center-hung videoboard and was incorporated into the TNT’s live broadcast of the game.
Famous Group rendered the live MR element in real-time using a mix of Unreal Engine, Pixotope, and SideFX Houdini.
Tuesday’s first-ever use of mixed-reality on NHL ice comes on the heels of Famous Group’s work with the Carolina Panthers and the Houston Texans last season, as well as the Baltimore Ravens in 2019. The Famous Group has also leveraged Unreal Engine on a variety of other mixed-reality projects at The Players Championship, Super Bowl LVI, the 2022 NBA All-Star Game, and Nickelodeon’s NFL Playoff game, among others.