When Nike Basketball came to us to help them deliver on their mission to help young athletes elevate their performance, our first step was to understand how kids try to improve their game. Our ethnographic research revealed a key insight: fledgling players hone their skills by watching their basketball idols, and mimic their signature moves in order to appropriate pros’ moves and personalize them to suit their own unique style.
At the inaugural World Basketball Festival at the legendary Rucker Park in Harlem, we created The Film Room, a live event where aspiring players not only learn from the very best, they make the moves their own, and learn about their performance.
The Film Room is part green screen, part half court, 100% education. Kids watch a pro performing a signature move, and with the help of Nike coaches, analyze each step. Next, they try to perform the move themselves on the half court. As they perform the move, HD cameras capture their movements and a custom-built algorithm breaks down each frame. Within minutes, participants receive a personalized 18 x 24” Nike Basketball poster, starring themselves.
The Film Room is based off of Signature Moves, a Nikebasketball.com feature that broke down the signature moves of the NBA’s very best in a series of instructional videos. While the feature was a success, helping countless players learn fundamental pro moves, we thought we could take it a step further. We wanted them to learn the moves hands on—not through passive observation, but through live, active participation.
Some important insights about young players helped shape the experience. Two key insights were that aspiring players mimic their favorite pros’ moves, hoping to master the moves themselves, and that they pay homage to their idols by hanging posters of them in their bedrooms.
We wanted to make Signature Moves physical, palpable. When Nike decided to create the World Basketball Festival, a bi-annual event that celebrates the culture and performance of the game, we knew we had an opportunity to take the building block of Signature Moves to the next level: The Film Room. The spirit of The Film Room was to let young participants watch, learn, and own the move, live. Then, to take away a personal, inspiring poster of their experience to proudly display on their wall at home.
The Signature Moves program was unveiled over two days at the 2010 Basketball festival in New York City, where hundreds of kids practiced their skills, mastered their favorite moves, and took home the coolest memento, a personalized Nike poster starring themselves.
The Film Room set the stage for similar events around the world, and not just for basketball, but for a range of other sports. Based on the success of The Film Room project, Nike has tasked us with replicating the program across international cities.
Nike The Film Room has garnered awards from The Clios, Creative Review The Annual (Best in Book), and the Webby Awards. But none of these accolades can equal the joy and delight on the faces of the hundreds of kids who had an opportunity to be a part of this program—they learned pro’s signature moves, upped their game, and made the moves their own—changing the face of the game in the process.
There is added complexity with a live event. There were many variables that needed safeguarding, from the technical considerations of the cameras, wi-fi, and printers, to crowd flow and queue logistics, to promotion and visibility at the festival. All had to work in concert to create an unforgettable user experience.
In order to capture rapid body movement, a custom-built algorithm was created to break down the player’s moves frame by frame. The algorithm generated a unique brand mark based on the player’s signature move. The resulting poster shows the brand mark expression behind the signature move sequence.The players, through their movement—and with the help of the algorithm—are in effect responsible for the final design of the posters.
What’s significant about the The Film Room is that while we created an established branded gesture for experience, the technology behind it is what drives the actual expression. In this case, technology not only enabled the idea, but was central to the idea itself. Without close collaboration between design and technology, this never would have been possible.
The Film Room took the best of technology, design, and human participation to deliver on an unforgettable user experience for aspiring players.