Inside the mind of a champion: feel Wimbledon with Andy Murray

Tennis. Technology. Transportation. One of the greatest sporting events in the world and one of Britain’s most famous sportsmen. It all came together in a three-and-a-half-minute VR experience built in Unreal Engine on the Oculus platform, created by Hammerhead in collaboration with Mindshare for Jaguar Land Rover as part of the brand’s #FeelWimbledon campaign.

“As creators of world-class performance, we’re taking fans closer than ever to the heightened emotions that make Wimbledon so extraordinary. Because in tennis, as in cars, not all performances are the same.”
— Jaguar Land Rover

Designed to show Jaguar’s commitment to technology, while providing a subtle showcase of its model F-PACE, the main aim of the film was to allow people to step right inside the iconic courts at Wimbledon, and inside the mind of Andy Murray as he prepared for the championships.

“The anticipation at the beginning of the event is huge for me. It’s our biggest tournament in tennis and to have it on home soil makes it special.”
— Andy Murray

“With this experience, we’ve captured a ‘moment in time’, explains Hammerhead’s Director of Marketing and PR, Yush Kalia. “The audience is right there with Andy, hearing him talk about what it is like to be on Centre Court, holding the hopes of a nation on his shoulders. The experience brings you closer to a champion as he’s about to play his winning shot.”

Flying through the air to the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) at Wimbledon the audience is drawn right into the action on the court, where Murray is about to smash a ball across the line to victory, experiencing that unique Centre Court atmosphere. As Andy Murray says, “the silence when you’re playing the points adds to the intensity of the experience. It’s very easy to overthink, you need to just clear your mind and concentrate on the shot”.

Creating the concept and building the experience

Working with global media agency Mindshare, Hammerhead developed the concept using in-house skills to storyboard and script the experience. They worked with TimeSlice Films to capture Andy Murray in a 3D rig, using 125 Digital SLR cameras and motion sensors to create a 4D scan of the player and using his voice-over for the film’s narration.

Working with photogrammetry to stitch the scans together was a straightforward process explains Yush. The challenge was then blending it all to run seamlessly in-engine to create a hyper-realistic experience featuring Andy Murray, 40 other hero characters and the iconic Wimbledon courts filled with a crowd of over 13,000. Unreal Engine 4 was used as the real-time development engine.

The big reveal

As well as its unveiling at London Waterloo, where thousands of commuters were given the chance to try the VR experience for the duration of the championships in a specially created Jaguar #FeelWimbledon experiential zone, the film debuted at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Renders from the experience were broadcast on Waterloo station’s huge transvision and motion screens and through Jaguar’s digital and social channels. The VR experience was also deployed to several Jaguar showrooms, and 20,000 Google Cardboards were distributed to retailers, commuters and tennis fans during the campaign.

And the reaction?

“The experience had a huge impact and was a very emotional experience for some people,” says Yush, adding that some of the audience watching in Waterloo station were moved to tears. It’s the power of VR he attests – and its ability to put people into places and situations they would never normally get to experience. Over 10,000 people took part in the experience at Waterloo station and the 360° video had over 2 million views on YouTube.

He confirms that they also had an overwhelmingly positive feedback from Jaguar and the film was used in its showrooms to help support the sales teams sell the new model. Jaguar itself revealed, in an interview with Marketing Week, that VR is both helping it sell an “incredible amount of cars”, as well as having a major impact on the brand.

The power of VR for the future

Robert Herd, Head of Communications at Jaguar Land Rover UK, says: “Jaguar now designs its cars in a VR environment and sells its cars in a VR environment; it is incredibly successful for driving purchases. Yes, initially consumers think it is gimmick but they quickly convert and it is driving a lot of additional car sales for us.”

Confirming there is now a “lack of fear” among consumers to try VR experiences, he points to the fact that Jaguar has previewed models including the F Type, F Face and Discovery Sport through the technology, adding that the car brand will continue to “evolve” its role within the retail experience. Jaguar’s recent I-PACE concept reveal created a world-first event when it simultaneously launched in two time zones across two continents on a VR platform – read the case study here.

Andy Murray, himself a tech enthusiast and owner of a Jaguar F-TYPE Coupé, has revealed that he has several investments in British technology projects. “The growth of virtual reality, especially its use in sport, is fascinating. I never thought I’d have my own VR experience.”

The future of this space is very exciting, says Yush, with the most interesting element being the rise of the virtual human and virtual worlds. “In the next two to three years we will see huge advances in this area as the capture technology advances and devices become more powerful, virtual humans will be used across immersive, and social experiences, and in film production.”

And the AELTC’s commercial director, Mick Desmond, confirms they are committed to delivering the best possible experience for their fan base each year. With the rise of immersive technologies, that experience may now be delivered through digital channels as much as attending the tournament itself.

“There’s no greater feeling than walking out onto Centre Court. It’s hosted so many incredible matches, the greatest champions ever, and the atmosphere is truly one of a kind. This special experience is reserved for very few players and supporters, so it’s amazing that Jaguar’s VR experience can bring people closer to the unique feeling of tennis’ most famous court.”
— Andy Murray

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Andy Murray, Hammerhead, I-Pace, Jaguar Land Rover, Mindshare, Oculus, Sport, Tennis, Unreal Engine, VR, Wimbledon