A 3D-look promotional graphics system for cricket and football pitches is taking the sports world bY storm. So what’s all the fuss about?
When you’ve been watching one of the big footie matches or cricket games on TV have you ever clocked those 3D effect ads seemingly standing on the pitch? If you’ve not noticed them so far it’s likely you will during 2017, because Amayse has come up with a large-format digital inkjet print-based system that is taking the sports world by storm.
The 2ViewCamCarpets system - which allows two different printed images to be displayed to different camera angles from the same space, thus doubling branding possibilities for TV exposure - has already been used by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) at the 2016 NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston and by Bundesliga team, Vfl Wolfsburg. You could also see it behind the goal lines during the England versus Spain game at Wembley last November. And Amayse managing director Greg Craigen is convinced the system will be a money-spinner for the specialist sporting events signage company as the likes of the FA and ECB, and possibly other pitch-based sports, come to realise the revenue building potential it gives them.
It’s on the back of in-depth knowledge of the marketplace that Amayse has ploughed significant funds into developing 2ViewCamCarpets. Only intelligent anticipation of significant market penetration would have led the company to put the resources required into R&D programme. Craigen says: “We got the idea a long time ago and started thinking about how we could actually turn it into a reality. We patented the system four years ago and have ploughed a lot of money into getting it to market since then.” He doesn’t want to put a figure on the investment, but bear in mind the following and you’ll get some idea of the costs, and effort, involved.
First up, take a look at picture immediately right. What you see is a 8mm thick foam-based material with routed gutters and printed images - one that goes across the right hand rides of the foam ridges, and the other going across the left hand sides. When it’s viewed from the correct angle from one side - and we’ll come onto that - what you see is the image you get in the picture top right. View it from the other side and you see what’s shown in the picture below that. Simple. Well, actually, anything but.
Craigen says he’s happy to talk in some depth about how 2ViewCamCarpets works because it has been so development heavy, and is so complex to get right - not forgetting that it’s patented too - that other PSPs would have a hard time replicating it.
“Getting the right base material is crucial, and that has taken us a lot of time, effort and money to get right,” explains Craigen, pointing out that “the foam has to be very white so there’s no showthrough on the reverse print. “It meant working hard to find the right material supplier who would work with us to provide something specific to our needs. Each time we did a trial run of a foam that we thought might work we had to buy 1,000m2 to test the process. So yup, it was expensive, but now we have something that we know does the job really well.”
But this is just where the real tricky part begins - all the measurements need to be spot on so that the finished printed pitch graphic actually looks like a 3D graphic from two different sides - no mean mathematical task.
“Our guys work closely with the ECB and FA and TV camera crews to work out where the 2ViewCamCarpet needs to be positioned on the pitch and what angles work for the promotional graphics. Because they are not printed flat they need to work out how to split each image for printing onto the individual ridges to that it all aligns from the camera angle. So the Ripping stage is really complicated.” As, is the routing, printing and final positioning at the sportsground.
“We have made sure we have the right people and the right equipment for the job,” enthuses Craigen, who headed up the UK side of Amayse in Esher, Surrey before it was merged last spring with long-time partners LogoPaint and 5m Print in Denmark to create the Amayse of today, which has 20 staff here, 20 in Denmark, and now three in the US too. This includes two software engineers and three graphic designers in Denmark, plus another two graphic designers in the UK, and two development people - working across the 2ViewCamCarpet project among other ideas.
The foam routing for the 2ViewCamCarpets product is handled in Denmark, where it is now running its router 24 hours a day to create the very specifically spaced gutters between the ridges and a 1mm wide flat ‘peak’ at the top of each - areas where a grey is printed to prevent the two graphics bleeding into each other.
Printing is then handled in both Denmark and the UK, both of which run swissQprint flatbeds, the latter having installed its machine just last summer. “We had to replace our Acuity and we wanted to make sure we aligned production output with Denmark,” says Craigen. “Plus, we also had to develop a green that we can print around the graphics for 2ViewCamCarpets so that when it’s in-situ it blends into the grass around it. So one of the key considerations when we were looking to buy a printer was looking at the inks it would run.”
He says that now the core development work is done on the offering, speeding up the production process is a focus going forward, especially given the quick turnaround times demanded by the sports industry - often no more than a week.
“Because of the material we use we have to print sections on the flatbed. But it’s very difficult to do - you can’t be out by 1mm. We’re now looking into roll-to-roll production so we’ll see where that will take us.”
At the time of the merger former LogoPaint CEO Kurt Henning, now CEO of Amayse, said: “We chose the name Amayse because we aim to create innovative and stand out event signage and branding that will stop people in their tracks.” 2ViewCamCarpets looks like it will do just that.
“Rights holders are always looking for ways of getting additional revenue. So we knew that if we took the plunge and developed something that effectively gave them more promotional space there would be a big demand,” adds Craigen. “When we had developed 2ViewCamCarpets and first showed the ECB they were very excited and we realised we’d made the right decision.
“It’s cost us a lot of money to get here, and the solution is very difficult to price, but it has huge scope. We think we have a model that works and are hoping it will be a big part of our business.”