Local production company wins a Sports Emmy

And the Emmy goes to...

Sarita Patel

And the Emmy goes to... an Okanagan man!

A new startup company in Kelowna has made waves in the television world, capturing a Sports Emmy for their work with Red Bull. XR Media Group uses tech such as extended, virtual and augmented reality for their productions which helped them capture the coveted Emmy. 

“The drumroll moment is pretty exciting and there was a wave of I didn’t know if I heard what I heard,” laughs Ryan Whitehead, technical creative for XR Media Group, describing his emotions when the winner was announced on Aug. 11. 

“I kind of was like looking around the room saying, that’s a win right? That’s us!”

He says being a first-year startup, it’s great to get recognized on such a big stage, especially for a small company of six in Kelowna. 

Due to COVID-19, Whitehead threw a small gathering at home instead of walking the red carpet for the award ceremony and received the hardware through the mail. The Outstanding Digital Innovation category had some big names.  

“There [were] two Major League Baseball technology nominations in there, there was a Fox Sports nomination, Riot Entertainment. There [were] a lot of big hitters that our little startup from Kelowna — we’re happy just to be rubbing shoulders with these other brands.”

He’s been nominated three times and won twice, first a Primetime Emmy working with Taylor Swift and this one, which he says is pretty special as it was a labour of love from his small team.

“Typically when we’ve gotten recognition in the past it’s been through an agency, it’s been through big LA studio, this wasn’t the case,” adds Whitehead. 

“We acted as the agency, we are the production house, we were the creative house so, we’re all pretty proud at XR Media Group for this accomplishment.”

The project was done for the Red Bull RAMPAGE mountain biking event in Utah. 

“We essentially augmented the broadcast by scanning the mountain, creating a digital twin of the mountain and creating assets that populated that mountain during the broadcast and they were located positionally in space.”

With the platform, they were able to display information like rider-line graphics, speed, slope depth and more to bring the event to life. 

XR Media used a method typically not used outdoors.

“It’s traditionally used in studio environments like the weather channel but this was the first time that I know of, not saying it is the first, but first time I know that it was used at a long distance like this in an outdoor environment,” he says. 

Whitehead has worked in many places around the globe and says Kelowna is a special place.

“Just 'cause you’re working from a small town doesn’t mean you can’t work on a global scale at all. If you’re in the right place, doing the right type of work and your work is solid you can go anywhere and we feel pretty fortunate to be working out of Kelowna.”

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