Today, we had the joy of sitting down with Garrett Young, manager of game entertainment for the Frisco RoughRiders baseball team. He’s in his third year working with the team, and if you met him, he’d introduce himself by saying, “Hi. I’m Garret. And I’m a fun-a-holic!” Well, maybe not, but that’s the vibe we got. Especially when he sent his bio and it mentioned he collects unique work socks. I believe there’s a deeper story behind the corgi socks…
Anyway, let’s dig into what he has to say about their fan race that involves a T-rex and other fun things to run from.
Your “Are you faster than a T-rex?” event was very creative! Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration for our Riders Run Series came from the Pittsburgh Pirates using their outfield board for SuperBuccoRun, an interactive LED game based on Super Mario and Atlanta Braves Beat the Freeze promotion. I wanted to create an interactive LED game similar to these promotions, but with a different twist to make it unique to the RoughRiders. The way our three Daktronics outfield LEDs are laid out gave me the idea that we should turn this idea I had rolling around in my head into a race using these boards. We are lucky to have the LED setup we have in the outfield because, otherwise, the race would be really short if we only had one outfield board.
Tell us how you decided how fast the T-rex should run.
A lot of trial and error went into testing how fast to control the speed of each LED animation. I have a lot of interns and staff to thank for racing the LED boards to find that perfect sweet spot of how fast each board should be. In our first race, we picked a contestant that was in town for a track meet and absolutely blew away the T-Rex in the race. The contestant has thirty seconds to race across all three outfield boards, which most test runs finished with five seconds to spare. The idea is to let the fan win every time, so I wanted to have full control of when to start each animation during the race.
So, how did you make this happen? Can you describe how you go about implementing this type of content?
I created all the graphics using Adobe After Effects and green screen stock footage. We have eight LED boards in the ballpark and we use four for this race. I created buttons in our Show Control system that will trigger the animations on the individual boards. At the beginning of the race, we have a set of generic graphics that go up to set the scene for the race to start. Then during our PA read for the race we open up the board to go to live video in 16×9 to show our contestant on the field. In our 16×9 look, we have wings on opposite sides of the video that display the name of the race and a 30-second countdown clock. Once the race starts I trigger the clock to start and the first animation to go. After that, judging on how fast the contestant is, I trigger each animation to time up with the contest to make it a close race. After the contestant wins I trigger the winning boards. During the promotion, I pick out music to set the scene, then race music and then a winning song when the contest has won.
We’ve heard some rumblings that you plan to implement more creative ideas like this. Will we be seeing a human race the terminator this season? Can we get the inside scoop on what might be coming up?
I love the terminator idea! Most of our races will be themed around our theme night schedule. For example, for our education days fans will race SpongeBob in our “Riders Sponge Run” and for Princess and Pirates Night fans will have the chance to race Jack Sparrow, who may or may not be slightly intoxicated, for our “Riders Treasure Run”. Other races planned are for Sandlot Night “Riders Beat The Beast Run” and for Forrest Gump Night fans will, of course, the one and only Forrest Gump. We released the biggest promotional schedule in baseball history this season and it gives me lots of material to work with when I create these LED races.
Our marketing team was wondering, when will you be getting a children’s Jeep with the Jurassic Park logo on the side so race contestants could drive the Jeep across your outfield running from a T-rex? We would love to see that!
Oh, I would have loved to see that as well! We may have to do Jurassic Park theme night again next year and just to do that race over again with a children’s Jeep and maybe a live T-rex!
Thanks so much for sharing, Garret! We look forward to watching you take your theme nights to a new level throughout the rest of the season!