AR Fan Fotos: Behind the Scenes
In 2021, Balti Virtual developed an augmented reality (AR) installation that allowed Ravens fans to pose with their favorite players for a photo op. Over the last year, this project has evolved into a platform we’re calling “AR Fan Fotos” that powers AR experiences for multiple teams and organizations across the country.
Conversations around developing this custom AR photo booth began with the Baltimore Ravens in 2019. They wanted an in-stadium installation that would grab fans’ attention, create a sharable social moment, and collect first-party data - a triple threat.
COVID-19 put an unfortunate pause on production, but we eventually aimed for the Ravens’ first 2021 home game as our official launch date. We began developing the software and working with American Bully Manufacturing, a Baltimore-based fabricator, on the hardware portion of the photo booth. This wasn't the most straightforward task considering we were still in the midst of a pandemic and there was a global hardware shortage, but we got it done.
The AR Fan Foto experience uses green screen video footage that’s typically captured during a team’s Media Day. Balti Virtual’s creative team attended the Ravens’ Media Day to help direct the video shoot. We know players aren’t required to attend Media Day, so we try to make the process as easy as possible (read: take as little time). Right now, it only takes between 2-4 minutes per player to capture the required shots!
The first Ravens home game came, and the response to“Squad Snaps” (the Ravens' name for their Fan Foto activation) was so enthusiastic that the Ravens ordered an additional kiosk so that more fans could enjoy everything that Squad Snaps had to offer. We knew that what we created would be fun for fans, but the level of excitement took us by surprise.
It makes sense that a photo booth, with its 55” screen and eye-catching visuals, would be a huge focal point within a stadium. Coupled with a long line, it’s difficult for fans to walk by and not want to stop to check out the action for themselves. With all of the fans walking by and engaging with the photo booth, it’s great that it also serves as a billboard for a team’s sponsors. The vinyl wrap around the kiosk, digital experience, photo frame, and email/text that fans receive can all be customized to showcase a team sponsor.
Since that first game in 2021, Balti Virtual’s Fan Foto booth has spread across the country to multiple teams and industries. While the photo booth initially found its niche within the sporting industry, we’ve seen it also be applicable at conferences, tradeshows, and pop-up events. The expansion to various professional sports teams and companies has allowed us to upgrade the platform and overall experience.
For instance, one of our NFL teams wanted fans to not only pose with their favorite player but dance an infamous TikTok dance with them, so we created the ability for fans to take and receive videos, too. We’ve also updated the photo booth, so it’s weather-resistant, added speakers to increase the wow factor, and upgraded the screen, so it’s brighter for day games while also combatting glare. We’ve worked with some companies that give us all of their player/talent content at the same time, and some companies like The Topps Company, Inc. add players/talent on a rolling basis - we are happy to work either way!
While we love installing and seeing a kiosk within venues, we have learned over the last two years that not every space is big enough for a 300-pound machine (even though it has caster wheels and is easy to maneuver!). That’s why we’ve also created a mobile selfie experience that works the same way as the kiosk; only it’s accessed via fans’ personal devices versus a physical kiosk. This version is web-based and can be easily integrated into a team or company app and can increase engagement with push notifications and seamless content updates.
We built both the kiosk and web-based selfie experience from the ground up, and every aspect is customizable. Thinking about launching an AR photo or video experience for your brand? We are continuing to update our AR Fan Foto platform and love nothing more than hearing how we could make them better.
We’re looking forward to hearing from you!