ESPN+ Launches ‘McEnroe vs. McEnroe’, the first tennis match between real people and their virtual avatars – TechCrunch

Premiering May 7 at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+, Michelob Ultra, in collaboration with production and technology company Unit 9, introducing “McEnroe vs. McEnroe,” the world’s first tennis match featuring real people versus virtual players — both versions of the entertaining, head-to-head tennis player, John McEnroe. In the match, McEnroe will actually face his ultimate opponent – his younger self. In this case, an AI-powered virtual player

The 45-minute film will showcase how the match was created using a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, plus five virtual avatars of John McEnroe from key points in his career that. Machine learning is a subcategory of AI that allows machines to automatically learn from past data without manual programming or editing.

The team at Unit 9 spent a day with John bringing the vision to life through full-body scanning, motion capture and Unreal Engine MetaHuman technology (a cloud-based application that creates a lifelike digital person). The avatar game system will be projected on a three-dimensional particle screen and will be a gameplay simulation with a ball launcher system and a ball-returning robot.

When McEnroe sends the ball over the net, the avatar will react to the direction of the actual ball. As the avatar rotates, a new ball is fired from the cannonball and then flies through the smoke screen at a precise point in space to make it emerge from the avatar’s racket position. From what’s shown in the trailer, the holographic particle display makes the virtual John McEnroe look blurry and distorted. So we’ll have to see how this really looks on the big screen when the series airs.

Unit 9’s team analyzed hours of footage from John’s matches throughout his career and recorded hundreds of shots, shots and movements. In total, they recorded 308 shots with over 259 loops and mixes to really capture his footwork as well as his famous shooting and passing skills.

The best part about this is that the team recorded a lot of key phrases and statements so McEnroe could talk to his virtual self (and maybe even smash a few rackets).

Image credits: Michelob Ultra

Michelob Ultra has also invited John’s younger brother Patrick, who will lead the match and provide real-time insights into who John has been over the years. Sports commentator Ashley Brewer and former professional tennis player James Blake will call to action and give fans a behind-the-scenes look at this one-of-a-kind match.

“McEnroe vs. McEnroe” is the latest scene in Michelob’s “Joy is the Ultimate Trophy” campaign. The virtual match is a significant shift in the company’s strategy and follows a virtual 2020 fan experience titled “Michelob Ultra Courtside“Partnerships with the NBA and Microsoft have resulted in a 32% increase in sales.

Ricardo Marques, Vice President of Marketing, Michelob Ultra US & Global, tells TechCrunch how they chose key moments in McEnroe’s career years.

“He’ll be playing his 1979 avatar – that’s when he enters the tennis circuit. Then we have ’81, when he peaked for the first time in his career. 1982 wasn’t a great year for John because he had a bit of a rough patch. He then returned to full force in 1984, before retiring in 1992,” said Marques.

In 1979, McEnroe won his first career Grand Slam singles title. While playing at his peak in 1981, he remained a controversial player, swearing at the referee and yelling at the referee. Even so, he was first male player since the 1920s won three consecutive US Open singles titles, moving closer to the No. 1 spot in the sport.

The tennis player will lose the match 1982 Wimbledon Finals and there is an early exit in 1983 US Open. Next year, he will be suspended for three weeks for his bad behavior and exceeding the limit $7,500 fine. He also eliminated from Wembley due to his racquet smash and rough words. While 1984 had its dark spots, McEnroe had his best season and had a match record of 82-3, the highest single-season ratio of the Open Era. His last year on tour was in 1992.

John McEnroe is now 63 years old and will be the first athlete to participate in this type of competition based on this technology, according to Michelob. The company approached John with this opportunity because they knew he was a fierce, fiery competitor and would be up for this kind of challenge.

“Who doesn’t want the chance to be able to look back on where you started and literally celebrate how much you’ve grown and learned along the way?” McEnroe said. “I’ve been through ups and downs like everyone else, and what I’ve learned over time is to appreciate the journey. No matter what happens, you have to find time to enjoy the experience and remember it’s only worth it if you enjoy it. ”

Along with the virtual tennis match, the film will also allow John to reflect on his career and share stories and lessons he’s learned over the years.

“This is exactly why John McEnroe means so much to this project. Aside from the fact that he’s, of course, a Hall of Famer tennis legend, he’s evolved as a human… His outlook on life fits wonderfully with what we all stand for. present,” said Marques. “So it’s really been a journey looking back at the moments when he was a very intense player on the pitch to get to where he sits today.”

The idea of ​​such a popular and hot-tempered tennis player playing an AR version of himself is sure to turn some heads and he could be a venture partner for the brewing company. . For example, McEnroe used to say Serena Williams (who has partnered with the brand) would be ranked 700 if she played in the men’s circuit.

Image credits: Michelob Ultra

The stark contrast between Michelob Ultra’s cheery-lucky tagline “It’s only worth it if you like it” and John’s belligerent demeanor would be an interesting combination, to say the least. The results will certainly be unique as “one of the most colorful personalities in sport has learned to find joy later in his career,” the company said. The film will allow audiences to witness how a competitive player has evolved over time.

“At the end of the day, this is a message of joy and fun. Remind everyone to make the most of each day and enjoy the ride,” added Marques.

Source link


News7h: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button