– Sairam Sagiraju
While my father’s interest in cricket survived through the decades, I couldn’t carry mine into adulthood. The advancements in media, from radio to television to High Definition have enriched my father’s cricket watching experience through the years. However, for me, there hadn’t been a significant advancement in viewing technology that altered my cricket watching experience in a big way. The 3D matches during the early editions of IPL were a mere fad and it deserved to be discontinued.
However, the recent advent of Virtual Reality and its application in sport rekindled my interest both as a filmmaker and as a viewer. VR as a medium can bring the stadium to one’s living room, turning the match into an event people could immerse themselves in. As pioneers of VR filmmaking in India, we at Meraki took up the challenge of introducing the country’s most popular sport in an all new medium. With rigorous practice and meticulous planning, we flew to Bangladesh to create history during Asia Cup 2016. The stage couldn’t have been bigger. First up was the series opener between India and Bangladesh followed by the mother of all contests – the India-Pakistan duel; both hosted at a full capacity Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium in Mirpur.
When Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan walked to the center of the pitch to take stance, they were accompanied by three and not two cameramen. The third one was Meraki’s cinematographer who was shooting the visuals of a cricket match for the first time in VR. The players and the 60000 strong crowd were oblivious of this landmark feat that was unfolding before them.
Meraki created VR content that ports people to various locations in the stadium such as dug outs, stands, commentary box, PCR room and the pitch, making it possible to take the stadium and match experience to millions of people at a fraction of the stadium ticket cost and at the convenience of their homes. The memorable wins that India scored against Bangladesh and Pakistan are recorded for posterity and meant to be relived. It is this that makes our work at Meraki all the more meaningful. Looking forward to bringing more such experiences to a couch near you.
The author is a co-founder of Meraki.