The TCS New York City Marathon Races Ahead with Adobe Creative Cloud

TCS Interactive wins prestigious Red Dot: Best of the Best in brands and communications design 2019 for its interactive, inclusive running game.

by Simon Williams

posted on 11-01-2019

Experiences matter everywhere we go. People expect good customer experiences every time they interact with a brand, whether they’re at a retailer, restaurant, or attending a major event such as the TCS New York City Marathon.

For runners and non-runners alike, the TCS New York City Marathon is seen as the pinnacle of the sport, attracting more than 52,000 racers and nearly two million spectators globally at last year’s event alone. It’s truly an experience, from the moment the Expo opens until the very last runner crosses the finish line, with both the runners and spectators at the center of everything.

As a title sponsor of the marathon, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a global IT services, consulting and business solutions organization, looks to deliver an exceptional experience to runners and fans at the world’s most technologically advanced marathon. In addition to working with New York Road Runners (NYRR) to create the marathon’s award-winning mobile app, in 2018 TCS was asked to create an interactive, inclusive experience for the Expo that would get people excited about racing.

TCS embraced the challenge, utilizing its creative and technical expertise with solutions from Adobe Creative Cloud to create a competitive marathon game. To truly capture the feel of the race, the team wanted the game to be fully accessible for both runners and wheelchair racers (“wheelers”).

“There’s a huge group of wheelers who compete in the marathon, but they race separately from the runners,” says Scott Daniels, Global Head of Studios at TCS Interactive. “We thought, wouldn’t it be fun to have all racers finally be able to compete head-to-head through our game?”

“Marathon City: Sprint to Win” quickly became a highlight of the Expo, with more than 4,000 competitors racing to be on top of the leaderboard.

How Adobe helped extend the race beyond the 26.2-mile course

“Marathon City: Sprint to Win” takes players on a race through the final 100 meters of the TCS New York City Marathon, guiding them through a virtual version of Central Park and across the finish line. Animated spectators cheer the racers on, echoed by an excited crowd watching the race on the big screen at the TCS expo booth.

“Adobe Creative Cloud was essential in creating almost every part of the game,” says Daniels. “Everyone was excited to leverage their Adobe Creative Cloud skills to create something that captured the feel of racing in the TCS New York City Marathon.”

One of the biggest challenges of creating the game experience was designing for two screens: the iPad controller and the larger viewing screen. The screens needed to work in tandem and create a unified user experience as players selected their avatars and entered their names onto the leaderboard.

Adobe XD helped the designers quickly prototype the two screens. The designers created a unique dual-screen experience in XD, overlaying a giant artboard with a smaller one to show how players would interact with the main screen and iPad simultaneously. This allowed the designers to get early feedback and create the final interfaces with greater confidence.

The art director created a diverse cast of characters in Adobe Illustrator to serve as avatars and cheering crowds. Artists brought the sketches to life as 3D models using Mixamo, an Adobe 3D animation solution, to rapid-rig the character and animate movements such as running and cheering. All characters wore official New Balance race clothing designed using textures created in Adobe Photoshop.

With Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects, artists created videos and animation to add dynamic movement to the title animation and the character selection screens. Sound added the final touch. TCS Interactive recorded cheering crowds and race announcers in their studio and polished the sound using Adobe Audition to give players that real-life feel of the race.

Leading the pack with Red Dot: Best of the Best Award

TCS Interactive was awarded the coveted title of “Best of the Best” from the Red Dot Awards for its work on “Marathon City: Sprint to Win.” Only 72 entries—less than 1 percent—received such an honor.

TCS typically doesn’t repeat Expo ideas, but “Marathon City: Sprint to Win” was so successful that it’s coming back in 2019. This year, TCS Interactive is using its Adobe Creative Cloud workflows to add “Marathon City: Spin to Win VR,” a virtual reality experience that will give people the chance to experience the race from a wheeler’s point of view.

“I think it was the aspect of inclusion that helped our game stand out,” says Daniels. “With the help of Adobe Creative Cloud apps, we did something that we’ve never done before: create a unique gaming experience that anyone could enjoy. There’s no other event quite like the TCS New York City Marathon, and we’re proud that TCS Interactive is such a big part of it.”

Watch how TCS Interactive made their award-winning game.

Topics: Creativity, Video & Audio, Customer Stories

Products: Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, Creative Cloud, XD