The Digital Department of France Televisions, with the Sports Department, has proposed a new test of Immersive Social Space dedicated to Roland Garros and the universe of Stade 2.
For this 2022 edition of the RG Lab, in partnership with the French Tennis Federation, the Digital Department of France Télévisions wanted to go further in the experiments conducted on immersive social spaces. The virtual studio of Stade 2, available on VRChat, was set up in the Roland Garros Stadium, next to the Philippe Chatrier court. This was an opportunity for the Innovation Department and the editorial teams of the Sports Department of France Télévisions to test new digital formats to animate these virtual spaces of a new kind and social networks.
This space, available free of charge on virtual reality headsets (PC VR headsets, Oculus Quest 1 and 2) and on PCs via the VRChat social VR platform, allows users to visit, with their friends various emblematic locations of Roland Garros and the virtual studio of Stade 2.
It also allows you to participate in sports, recreational and cultural activities:
- Play tennis against an opponent on the Philippe Chatrier court
- Mini tennis games on the annex courts
- A visit to the Roland Garros museum, in partnership with INFOSYS
- A video space on the Place des Musketeers
- Daily meetings with journalists from the Sports Editor's office
This test, focused on social and immersive components, was intended to continue imagining the digital formats of tomorrow that could be produced within this world by the editorial teams of France Televisions' Sports Department.
It was also an opportunity for France Televisions to test new 100% digital production modes and new program formats within a virtual world to reach new, younger audiences.
This world was developed by the VRrOOm company and the Digital Innovation Department of France Televisions by integrating the virtual studio of Stade 2 used on air.
Origin of the project
As a reminder, France Televisions has been interested in the subjects of immersion, gaming, and interactive 3D technologies for a long time in order to renew itself and create new formats, notably during the previous Roland Garros, and via the productions of the Storylab or the GTR...
The year 2021 has seen the rise of the metaverse concept within the global tech sphere, pushed by digital giants, and has thus become known to the general public.
With its experience in immersive technologies, the innovation department decided to experiment by asking itself how France Televisions, the leading media of the French, could intervene in the immersive spaces that will constitute the metaverse in order to continue to fulfill its mission with these future users by allowing them to experience major cultural and sporting events, traditionally broadcast on linear television.
The first test was focused on winter sports during the Beijing Olympics, with the virtual studio of Stade 2 as a support. You can find out everything you need to know about it in this previous article.
Following this first test, the Innovation Department and the Sports Department wanted to continue to experiment with the Roland Garros tournament in partnership with the French Tennis Federation (FFT).
A set of connected worlds
The Roland Garros world has been designed with the objective of allowing those who can't go to the tournament to be on the site.
That's why we recreated the Roland Garros stadium with different emblematic places like the Jardin des Mousquetaires or the Philippe Chatrier center court with the France Televisions set in it, making accessible exclusive spaces that few people can visit.
France Televisions worked with VRroom on this project to bring the immersive space project to life on the social virtual reality platform VRChat, which uses the Unity real-time 3D engine. VRChat has several advantages: it is free, it is accessible in virtual reality and on a computer, and it already has the infrastructure to accommodate many users in a virtual world by letting them choose their avatar. Many creators are present on this platform and provide players with many virtual worlds of different types: games, watchparty, concert, museums ... VRroom has already developed many worlds on this platform for different types of events.
To guarantee an optimized experience on PCs, virtual reality headsets connected to a PC or less powerful standalone headsets, the immersive space is split into several worlds connected by portals to fit within the technical limitations of the platform.
The main world is a simplified version of the Roland Garros stadium with the exterior of the Philippe Chatrier court with portals leading to the interior, the Jardin des Mousquetaires in which a giant screen allows you to watch live or replay video feeds to make immersive watchparty with other players. Two annex courts offer tennis training games.
On the other side of the central alley we find the outside of the Stade 2 studio (where the TV zone is located in the real stadium) with once again a portal to the Stade 2 studio world. The Roland Garros village is also present with a passage to the Roland Garros museum. The village also offers a relaxation terrace with a virtual bar francetvsport and panoramic view on the rest of the world.
The inside of the Chatrier court exists in two versions, one allowing virtual reality players to compete one-on-one on the court in a mini tennis game, and one for PC players. The France Televisions TV set is also present, equipped with a virtual camera system.
The Roland Garros virtual museum, originally developed by Infosys and reproduced on VRChat by the innovation department, presents all the official posters of Roland Garros with explanatory texts and audio descriptions, in French and English, as well as the cups of the tournament.
The virtual studio Stade 2 is quite similar to the one presented in the previous version, this time located in the heart of Roland Garros.
The Innovation Department set up on a terrace in the stadium's TV zone to make it both a demonstration area for France Televisions and its partners invited on site, as well as a recording studio for various tests of new content produced in the virtual world.Maxence Regnault, a journalist from the sports newsroom, was introduced to virtual reality and the presentation of avatars to conduct interviews in VR :
Nelson Monfort also lent himself to the game and with his avatar gave us some historical anecdotes about the tournament in the virtual museum :
Hybrid production Stream live Samuel Etienne & L_nny
Finally, a streaming platform was set up on the terrace for a live exchange with Samuel Etienne and his community, accompanied by Maxence Regnault and L_nny, content creator specialized in immersive technologies.
The device consisted of a stream control room that received the flow of two PTZ cameras as well as the video flow of three PCs capturing the points of view of the virtual reality speakers as well as those of the virtual cameras placed in the Roland Garros immersive space.
During this live, they went around the world exchanging with the chat on the subjects of virtual reality and the metaverse, with the different uses, already existing or conceivable in a more or less near future (concert, events, education, ethics, security...)