Koji Matsumoto remembers how nervous he felt at the start of the 2018 NBA postseason, and not necessarily because of the Trail Blazers’ playoff hopes.
As the team’s motion graphics designer, he played a significant role in coming up with the brand new player introduction sequence, which required projecting animations onto a circular curtain at center court controlled by Bluetooth.
“That was horrifying,” he says, “because we didn’t know how it was going to work.” It ended up going smoothly, and the tech has become a staple of the Blazers’ postseason runs.
Matsumoto, 30, has done a lot to establish the franchise’s visual aesthetic over the past five years. He has his hands in at least 60% of in-game graphics: If a player appears in front of a green screen, chances are he was involved.
His chief skill is 3D modeling, which he’s used to create an animated version of mascot Blaze the Trail Cat and to tell the story of the time the team got stuck in an elevator in Boston.
With the NBA season about to relaunch in Orlando, Matsumoto is faced with trying to be creative in an unprecedented situation. But he says it won’t really change how he operates. “I just try to produce the best work I can,” he says, “no matter the circumstance.”
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