Photo: Marissa Dederer

App brings Maple Leaf Gardens alive

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By Nuruddin Qorane

At the Mattamy Athletic Centre, formally known as Maple Leaf Gardens, fourth-year radio and televsion arts student Marshall Jeske points his smartphone at a old photo of the 1972 Summit Series.

“Watch this,” he says. Within seconds, the picture comes to life on his smartphone. A quick double tap on his screen and the video freezes in place allowing him to let his arm down and enjoy the video. The video is a recap of Game Two of the Canada-USSR series which was played at Maple Leaf Gardens.

History is coming to life in new ways at the MAC thanks to Jeske and his classmates Shaun Ono, Josh Nieman, Ryan Bertram and Dylan McFadyen, who on Tuesday launched their new Mattamy Interactive App. The app plays one-minute-long historical videos when pointed at 26 designated images around the centre.

The team originally created the app for their end-of-the-year project. “Usually for final projects groups will do a TV pilot or documentary, but we’re more into the digital new media stream and wanted to do something different,” Jeske says.

He says his group wanted to do something that would highlight the history of Toronto. “It had just been opening weekend here (Mattamy) and we remembered seeing all these old photos…We thought, what if we could include the new Mattamy building with history and with new media and kind of infuse it altogether. This is what we got,” he says, motioning to his phone.

The app uses mostly archival footage in its videos, which the group quickly discovered can be very expensive. CBC was charging $20 to $40 a second with a minimum purchase of 30 seconds, while the National Film Board (NFB) where they got most of their footage, charged $10 a second. This meant the group needed to be creative when editing their videos.

“We tried to use more still photos in the videos. We manipulated them and used after- effects to give that video motion without having to use as much footage,” Jeske says.

Aurasma image recognition technology is used by the app to scan the photos. Aurasma identifies certain trigger points on the photograph which relays the information to a server that tells your phone which video to play. The app displays all videos perfectly within their trigger photographs frame, which adds to the feeling of history coming alive.

The team interviewed hockey legend Doug Gilmour, former Leaf Chris King, former Leaf GM Jim Gregory and former Toronto Rock captain Colin Doyle for the app and included their interviews in some of the videos. But sports isn’t the only aspect of Maple Leaf Gardens the team touched on in making the app.

Group member Ryan Bertram helped bring the musical history of MLG to guests visiting the MAC. Bertram interviewed rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins, two of the members of the band Triumph and Donnie Walsh of the Downchild Blues band, which opened for a Trudeau political rally held at MLG in 1979.

“They’re all born and raised in Toronto and came here to the hockey games as kids. They had great stories to tell about playing here,” Bertram says.

Preserving the building’s storied history was very important to the team and fueled their desire to create the app, Jeske says. “We’re so lucky as Ryerson students to have this facility and even more so because of this building’s important history to Toronto. We just don’t want students to take it for granted.”

The app is available for Apple and Android devices.

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