CHICAGO - Earlier this summer, the United Center Joint Venture (UCJV) opened the doors of its brand new, 10,000-square-foot Madhouse Team Store in the United Center's east addition. Offering official Bulls and Blackhawks gear and – starting very soon – a new line of exclusive Madhouse apparel, the store also features several exciting, state-of-the-art interactive installations. These include:
. The Interactive Timeline: An immersive video presentation appearing on a 10-foot-wide interactive monitor allowing multiple fans to simultaneously explore the Bulls' and Blackhawks' ongoing evolution of their respective sports.
. Call the Game: The interactive audio booth casting Bulls and Blackhawks fans as sportscasters to record original color commentary over their favorite in-game moments, and then save and share their performances on social media.
. The Bulls and Blackhawks Photo Booth: In this customized photo booth, fans are photographically immersed within their favorite United Center game moments, where again, the spectacular results can easily be shared using social media and email.
As a key part of United Center's partnership to develop the Madhouse Team Store with 555 International, local creative agency Leviathan was commissioned to conceive, create and program all the new interactive digital content. To integrate the audiovisual and interactive elements, Leviathan teamed-up with video collaboration company Whitlock.
"Leviathan's marketing technology at the Madhouse Team Store has been a great success for our guests of all ages," said Craig Geffrey, United Center's director of retail operations. "With past projects for Nike, BMW, Callaway, STARZ, and many others, Leviathan was the clear choice for our interactive deployment elements. Their technology in the CTA car and the touch screen timeline has been a huge value add to the shopping experiences for our Bulls and Blackhawks fans at the United Center."
"People from across the globe visit the United Center to immerse themselves in the excitement and cultures of the Bulls and the Blackhawks," added Chad Hutson, Leviathan's president. "The collective team behind the new interactive experiences has leveraged the rich histories of both franchises, as well as the incredible passions of their fan bases, to design and deliver truly unforgettable activities that are entertaining, engaging and exclusively available at the Madhouse Team Store."
Strategically located throughout the store, Leviathan's installations creatively address this guiding principle: Two teams, one thread. Directly focusing on that thread, the Interactive Timeline is designed with discreet function sets which present unique "game day" themes for each team, as well as non-game day themes. The results provide an ultra-sophisticated, infinitely resourceful digital exploration of two Chicago dynasties united under one historic roof.
"We used all of our design and storytelling capabilities to ensure Madhouse Team Store visitors will be mesmerized by The Interactive Timeline," confirmed Bradon Webb, Leviathan's senior creative director. "And when it comes to interacting with it, we've designed it to allow anyone to easily transport themselves to any point in either team's history, and to experience the most pivotal moments through a rich archive of audio and visual references."
Programming for The Interactive Timeline's touch screen is divided into thirds, where each section responds independently to user input. "The Interactive Timeline posed some serious technical challenges," explained Austin Mayer, Leviathan's interactive director. "Displaying hundreds of images and videos simultaneously, while maintaining a high frame rate and responsive touch input, required some advanced wizardry. We were able to optimize the experience using GLSL, the official OpenGL Shading Language, using our design weapon of choice: Derivative's TouchDesigner."
TouchDesigner was also the key for delivering the themed, packaged content underlying the Call the Game and Photo Booth installations, and enabling every interactive feature. According to Mayer, the team used the Twilio cloud communications platform to facilitate MMS texting to fans, while relying on Python for email delivery of the customized game calls and booth photos.
"At Leviathan, we consider ourselves among the biggest fans of the Bulls and Blackhawks organizations and their stars," Hutson added. "To be able to help others like us visit United Center, easily explore the teams' histories, immerse themselves inside the teams' stories and share all that excitement with the world – it's no wonder we love our jobs so much."
Leviathan (http://www.lvthn.com) is a specialized creative agency working at the nexus of design, digital media, and interaction. By bringing phenomenal narrative content and emerging technologies into physical environments, Leviathan transforms ideas into exceptional experiences for brands and creative collaborators worldwide. Established in 2010, Leviathan's innovation has been recognized by top-tier publications including Communication Arts, The Creators Project, Fast Company, Forbes and Wired, among many others.
About United Center
The United Center is a state-of-the-art, 980,000 square-foot multi-use entertainment facility that has welcomed more than 55 million fans since opening in 1994. Home of the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association and the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League, the United Center hosts more than 200 events each year, including the best sporting events, musical performers, family shows, and special events in the industry. A commitment to superior service makes the United Center one of the top venues in the world. For more information, visit http://www.unitedcenter.com.