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85 champions live on stage in stunning real-time AR

Silver Spoon elevated the fan and player experience for Riot Games’ 2022 Wild Rift Icons Global Championship, held in Singapore from June 14 to July 9. The New York-based real-time animation and virtual production studio created and controlled more than 85 unique game assets with augmented reality (AR) effects in real-time throughout each of the tournament’s rounds.

The studio took 3D assets from Riot Games characters, which were built for the games in Unity and chosen by the champions to represent themselves during gameplay. Since the assets were incompatible with Silver Spoon’s Unreal Engine platform, the studio recreated special effects for each using only visual references from the game.

“It was incredibly fast paced, as we were doing batches of 10 characters every week to get everything ready,” says Laura Herzing, executive producer at Silver Spoon.

Silver Spoon was also tasked with building an atmospheric effect to simulate the energy of a live audience, which Riot Games could control to dial up the “crowd” noise at any given moment to increase excitement and fan interest. That request came less than a month before show set-up when the tournament site was changed from Madrid to Singapore for COVID-related reasons and a live audience was prohibited.

The team dedicated two months to content creation work before going on-site for the entire five-week run, successfully tracking three dedicated AR cameras using Stype, placing and lighting characters, and creating stage exit/entry effects for all players. Everything was done in-engine to provide Riot Games and all operators with real-time, runtime control to maintain the right energy levels in the room.

“These effects and characters were not built just to look good on their own,” says Herzing. “The real-time controls we added allowed operators to change the height or color of the waves, dial in the fine-tuned details of lighting, shadows and color and integrate them with the practical lighting on the stage, so everything felt connected.”

Adding live AR effects and content creation to the Riot Games event is the latest step in the evolution of esports from a niche online form of entertainment into a multi-billion-dollar industry drawing growing numbers of fans, players and advertisers to increasingly high-profile events.

This event was a perfect example of where gaming and esports are headed,” says Dan Pack, managing director at Silver Spoon. “Customizing, delivering, and controlling real-time effects creates a more personalized experience for everyone involved. Bringing game assets into these types of live events makes them feel ‘real’ and not just something you’re watching on a screen.