LOS ANGELES — As Eric Burak sat and typed at his computer, all seemed like a quiet day in the office for the Famous Group's executive producer.
But don’t let the quiet fool you. If you took a closer look at his computer screen, you'd quickly find there is more than meets the eye.
What You Need To Know
- The Famous Group is a production company that specializes in creating a new era of event production and virtual fan experiences
- They have worked with various NFL clubs, the league itself, the NCAA and WWE to develop new creative concepts
- Eric Burak, the group's executive producer, says the pandemic pushed virtual and mixed reality to the forefront of sports entertainment and production
- In stadium, teams are using technology to create virtual mascots, develop promotions and help with storytelling
"Almost everything we do kind of blows our minds," Burak said with a smile. "And just the fact we have these teams and leagues that wanna push the envelope, that’s exactly what we wanna do every day."
Pushing the envelope is kind of the Famous Group’s MO. The Los Angeles-based production company specializes in creating a new era of event production and virtual fan experiences.
"Whether that’s JumboTron content, a traditional hype video open or some of the new creative technology like mixed reality, a lot of these new stadiums are really technologically advanced, so it really lends itself to the creative," Burak said.
While they group has worked in the sports industry for the last 20 years, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed them to think even further outside the box.
"When the NFL did reach out regarding the NFL draft opportunity and bringing fans in, we realized there was an opportunity there," said Burak.
Using a program they developed in-house called the Virtual Seat, they allowed the NFL to bring fans virtually into commissioner Roger Goodell's basement in real time.
Now that live games and events are back, the creativity hasn’t stopped. In fact, it’s flourished. Think bringing virtual reality mascots to life live in stadium.
"When we did our first real sports activation with the Baltimore Ravens, their game entertainment director Jay O’Brien wanted to make it really special for the fans that came out to a Ravens game in the cold in December," Burak said. "So that’s when the Raven flew around."
The group also reimagines traditional in-game elements, such as contests or promotions.
"So, a twist of a traditional concept and in-game element, but they are now sponsoring that by Kroger," Burak said. "And you have a shopping cart race taking up the whole field."
With today's tech-savvy sports landscape, stadiums are becoming more technologically advanced and teams are capitalizing.
“We’re literally scanning the stadium. It’s like a video game," Burak explained. "And you are literally bringing objects onto the field as if they were there.”
The goal is to encourage fans to come to games live, rather than just staying home and watching them on TV.
"What you’re seeing on a broadcast, whether it’s augmented reality or variations networks are doing, it makes the in-game experience so important because basically those sports teams and leagues are fighting against people on the couch," Burak said.
It's why leagues like the NFL and NCAA are turning to the work programmed and developed at the Famous Group. To Burak, what they're doing now is just the beginning.
"Think about the first down line, that was technology, and when Fox Sports put a persistent score bug, people were freaking out," he said. "And now, if you don’t have that or a first down line, well how can I watch my football game? This is really just the tip of the iceberg."