The countdown has started. Rugby-mad South Africans are on tenterhooks. Will we hang on to our title as champions of the world? Will those men from Wales deliver us an unexpected blow on Sunday? Will the Boks slay dragons? Deputy president, Kgalema Motlanthe, has flown to New Zealand to represent the office of the President at the opening ceremony later today. The theme is being kept secret, but the organisers have promised the biggest fireworks display ever seen in New Zealand.
In the four years since the Boks won the World Cup in France, technology has moved on so of course, this World Cup will loom large on the social networks, and the apps are everywhere. So are the ads, games, the flags, the clothes and even the stamps. Oh and then there’s the Ernie Els wine or two! Wonder why the wine family Burger didn’t corner that market? http://www.ernieels.com/wines/Rugby_World_Cup_Wines.html
TheMediaOnline picked a few interesting goodies out there that might enhance the World Cup experience.
Giving rugby fans a voice
Crowdsourcing was a key element of Riverstone Films’ quest to create South Africa’s first virtual stadium television commercial. And what a rousing feat that was! The 45-second commercial shows a Springbok team lined up in a virtual 3-D stadium filled to the brim with ardent fans singing the unofficial Springbok anthem, Shosholoza. Virtual supporters are represented by video clips they submitted as part of the Vodacom Shosholoza Bokke campaign, which enables fans to show their support even though the team is playing more than 11 000km away.
[The main image at the top of this story is part of the virtual TV ad showing the Boks in the 3D stadium by Riverstone Films.]
“Executing a project of this nature has never been attempted in South Africa, and rarely elsewhere,” says Jeremy Holden, Riverstone Films co-owner and director of the commercial. “I was attracted to it for that exact reason and am very proud to be part of such a ground-breaking project, despite the complete lack of control over what video material we would be working with. We had a firm idea upfront of what we wanted to achieve and some expectation of the quality of material we would receive.”
The commercial was flighted on September 1 to coincide with the team’s departure for the tournament and is a mainstay of Vodacom’s campaign for the duration of the showpiece.
Thousands of user-submitted video clips were incorporated into the virtual stadium, with the original audio from submissions combined to provide the song soundtrack. The commercial was in production for three months, with user submissions downloaded and scanned daily for quality and suitability. The submission of the content was completely reliant on Vodacom’s data network as individual video clips were uploaded via mobile phone, and webcam onto the Vodacom website, or captured at specially-erected booths at rugby and other live events.
“This was uncharted territory for everyone involved and we had to draw on the many years of experience in film production to adapt processes and create workflows for this format,” states Saffron Doran, executive producer on the project and Riverstone Films co-owner.
One of the biggest challenges was collating the audio from the thousands of user-submitted clips to produce a unified, harmonious rendition of the song. This required the skill of music director Rob Schroder, formerly of Robroy Music, to ensure that the tempo, tone, pronunciation and syncing of all the clips produced a credible final audio that is true to what a stadium full of fans would sound like.
Check it out here: http://youtu.be/l5HjGwvdPyU
The Rugby World Cup widget
MySubs has come up with an IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 widget that will keep you up to date on what’s happening with your team. This widget will send regular updates directly to your computers’ desktop, so you’ll know what teams are playing when and where, and be one of the first to know who won each game. Very useful if you’re stuck behind a desk and television is a dream away.
The widget’s regular feed includes:
- the most recent rugby news
- all the fixtures for the tournament
- results for matches already played
- updated standings within the four pools
- information on all the teams participating this year
- images and history of all venues being used
You’ll find it on: www.mysubs.co.za where you can download it now.
The evolution of rugby gaming
Distinctive Developments, the studio behind the #1 rugby smartphone game series Rugby Nations, has released what it’s calling the “most in-depth and entertaining rugby simulation featuring motion-captured animations, new game modes, team management and more”.
Rugby Nations 2011 new gameplay system delivers “an immersive gaming experience with more fully playable elements. The restructured defensive gameplay includes everything from standing tackles and mauls to competitive rucks. With playable lineouts, long passes, grubber kicks, penalties and much more, the way the game turns out is entirely up to you”.
Ok. There is also a team management feature allows you to strategise your game. And brilliant animation that gives the game “enjoyable realism” that resembles live broadcasts. And they offer the Haka too, of course.
Still in gaming mode, Distinctive has also delivered a free “treat” for fans called Rugby Kicks. It is described as “a fun yet challenging game where you learn to master your kicks and progress from small local fields to the international stadiums”.
It has incorporated social network features too as players can serve challenges to friends of Facebook. And some fun for the girls perhaps: you can “customise” your player’s look too! “ Practice may make you perfect but in this game, only the truly gifted will become legends.
Rugby Kicks is available on iPhone & iPod Touch and free to download from the AppStore: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/rugby-kicks/id448933711?mt=8 <http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/rugby-kicks/id448933711?mt=8>
To see the game in action, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZLuv6AQk8w
Putting a stamp on the evolution of national sports emblem
A reunion event to commemorate a 1971 match between the All Blacks and the South African Springboks in Port Elizabeth has been marked by a set of 10- new postage stamps that illustrate the evolution of the Springbok emblem over the years.
The stamps were designed by Thea Clemons, the Post Office’s in-house designer. She used Springbok emblems supplied by the South African Rugby Union. The stamps are the correct postage for an international small letter and cost R6,00 each.
“With these stamps, Springbok fans can send symbols of their support for the national team to any country in the world,” says Johan van Wyk, senior manager in charge of Philately at the Post Office.
The Springbok symbol graced the national rugby team’s jerseys for the first time in 1906 when the team toured Great Britain with Paul Roos as its captain. Apart from documenting the evolution of the Springbok emblem over the years, the stamps also reflects changing aesthetics and symbols over the years.
“It is insightful to see how a symbol of speed and agility was depicted in 1906 compared to today,” says Clemons. “The first iteration of the Springbok symbol remained in use for 27 years. The one before the current symbol remained the same for only four years – a clear reflection of how rapidly symbols change in current times.”
The stamps are available at selected Post Offices and online at www.virtualpostoffice.co.za
Finally, some useful links:
Now I’m off to watch the opening ceremony. With my official IRB app downloaded to the BlackBerry. It’s got news, teams, a fan zone, videos and a match centre.