The New Jersey Meadowlands, home of MetLife Stadium and Super Bowl XLVIII, has long been known for its unpredictable, swirling winter winds. Autodesk and FOX Sports are teaming up to give viewers the opportunity to actually see what impact the wind may have on the first Super Bowl ever held outdoors in a cold-weather locale. The technology, dubbed FOX WEATHER TRAX for the game, clearly illustrates, for the first time ever on live television, dynamic in-stadium airflow patterns.
FOX Sports called upon Autodesk, one of the leading software provider changing the way the world is designed and made, to illustrate the challenges players may face due to potentially unprecedented Super Bowl wind conditions. Using Autodesk simulation technology to calculate the specific weather conditions inside MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, the software provider and FOX plan to superimpose visual representations of wind direction directly over game play. Prior to this joint effort, coaches, players, commentators and fans relied on field goal flags to determine how the wind influenced a pass or field goal. It was a guessing game at best, and one that typically left viewers scratching their heads as to why a kick or touchdown pass was missed. The collaboration between FOX Sports and Autodesk eliminates the guesswork.
“Wind is obviously an invisible factor that can directly affect the outcome of a game,” said Zac Fields, Vice President, Graphics & Technology, FOX Sports, who is working directly with the Autodesk team on the project. “Since the wind has a notorious reputation in the New Jersey Meadowlands, and given the magnitude of the game, we looked for and found a great tool to depict this phenomenon in excellent detail which should help the more than 100 million viewers actually ‘see the wind.’”
Simulation technology is regularly used by designers, architects and engineers to investigate “what-if” scenarios explore new ideas and gain deeper insight into how an everyday product, a building or stadium behaves during day-to-day use. This new and easy-to-use technology has radically improved the design process by allowing Autodesk customers to test and analyze designs digitally before physical production and perhaps best of all, the digital computation takes place unobtrusively behind the scenes – similar to spellcheck in a word processing application.
“When FOX Sports sought to take this year’s Super Bowl viewing experience to the next level, Autodesk was more than ready to answer the call,” said Buzz Kross, Autodesk senior vice president. “People use our simulation software every day to understand and predict outcomes in the world around them. Whether it’s testing how a mobile phone operates in extreme temperatures or the air flow in an office building, our simulation tools help people make better decisions and produce winning outcomes.”
How it Works
For the first time ever, home viewers will have an insider’s view of the wind and airflow patterns at the stadium, but how exactly does it work?
- Step 1 – A digital model of the stadium is constructed using 3D modeling software.
- Step 2 – Simulation software interacts with the digital stadium model. The user alters wind speed and direction to suit the game day conditions and sees how the air flow patterns inside the stadium are affected.
- Step 3 – The simulation graphics are then played out over a live camera to show the viewer the wind paths in relation to the field.