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Extended Reality LED Technology Is Being Used for ‘Sunday Night Football’ Open

The same extended reality LED technology used to film “The Mandalorian” and other shows is being used for NBC’s production of SNF.

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Extended Reality LED Technology Is Being Used for ‘Sunday Night Football’ Open

The XR stage in action at Studio Labs. Courtesy/Studio Labs.

If you work in pro AV – specifically if you’re heavily ingrained in LED display technology – you have probably heard of using digital displays to create immersive background displays that have come to be known as extended reality (XR) stages.

The technology was brought into the mainstream thanks to Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), a visual effects company and a division of Lucasfilm, the studio behind the “Star Wars” franchise. If you’ve seen “The Mandalorian” and know about the innovative way massive LED walls were used to help shoot the series, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Now, that same extended reality LED technology is in huge demand, as ILM is now bringing it to NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

According to the network, the show open for the 2021 season will feature recording artist Carrie Underwood – who has opened “Sunday Night Football” for a number of years – in front of a virtual football tailgate.

Here’s more from NBC’s press release:

“Shooting the new show open for Sunday Night Football is one of the highlights of my year,” said Underwood, who headlines the SNF show open for the ninth consecutive season.  “I just love the fact that we get to reinvent it every year.  The team behind these shoots is incredible and it’s always a really fun day, especially this year getting to work with such amazing state-of-the-art technology.”

In addition, the show open will highlight user-generated cameos from some of the NFL’s biggest stars, as well as fans’ self-recorded video from NFL tailgates.

“We are excited about this year’s new collaboration with Carrie, which utilizes virtual production technology to generate real-time environments for Carrie’s performance, including a ‘tailgate’ to salute this game’s great fans, who have been ‘waiting all day for Sunday night’ and will be incorporated with their own user-generated tailgate videos,” said Tripp Dixon, NBC Sports creative director of the SNF show open.

This technology is extremely new and complicated, with new players aside from Industrial Light and Magic jumping into the game of late.

Studio Labs, a division of New Hampshire-based AV events company Events United, is one of those newcomers to this technology. Last week, I visited the studio for an open house and saw this technology at work. It truly is incredible, and the amount of things you can do is nearly limitless.

I came away with the understanding that this technology is in huge demand, as it can keep production costs low by eliminating the need to travel to different locations to shoot, not to mention reduce the need to travel during a global pandemic.