Throughout the year, Digital Design students are given opportunities to interact with industry through guest speaker events and studio tours. Students visit local agencies that specialize in motion and/or interactive design. We recently visited Rogers Arena, home rink of the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League, to see how motion and interactive design were being used to enhance the fan experience.
The tour was led by Mark Raham, Creative Director at Canucks Sports & Entertainment. Mark, as mentioned on the Canucks’ website, “is responsible for the look and feel of the Canucks brand at all public touch points. He works closely with all customer-facing departments including brand and creative, web, broadcast and game presentation to develop and enhance the Canucks brand identity.”
We started the tour at the statue of Roger Neilson. For those familiar with the history of the team, Roger was the head coach who inspired the towel power phenomenon during a playoff run in the 1980s. Mark mentioned how well-received the statue has been for fans and it provided one of the many storytelling elements that are spread throughout the arena. The statue is a popular meeting place before games where fans can see lights of the team colours on the columns and hear ambient crowd sounds that help build anticipation for the game. All of these elements serve to create the start of “layered experiences” for the fans.
Once we made our way inside the arena, we saw how printed and digital banners engaged the fans. Interactive design was front and centre when we visited The Canucks Hall of Heroes. It’s an exhibit that has fully interactive touch screens to highlight the careers of the only four Canucks players to have their numbers retired: Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden, Markus Naslund, and Pavel Bure. It was great to see the collection of game-worn gear, medals, hockey sweaters, and rare photos. Another interactive component of this exhibit is Trevor Linden’s former locker that was removed during a renovation of the dressing room. A camera has been installed in this area to allow fans to have their picture taken in the hockey stall.
A significant feature of watching games live is how motion design is used in the pre-game light show. The rink, seats and four scrims are projected with images of the Vancouver team elements and the players. We were fortunate to see a rehearsal of the Canucks’ opening presentation. Mark talked about the challenges of projection mapping for a hockey game compared to a concert where the viewing area is at one point and the lighting conditions are more controlled. A new addition to the pre-game fan experience this season has been the installation of 76 ice-level LED stanchions along the glass. This lighting system is the first of its kind in the NHL, and they have been dubbed “celebration lights.”
By the end of our visit, it was clear that Mark and his team have built an engaging and memorable fan experience that is not available to the home viewer. Thanks, Mark for a great tour.