Stadium hosts 'very exciting' research exercise

Animation Research Ltd product manager Sophie Luther and University of Otago Associate Prof Jamin Halberstadt took part in a research project at Forsyth Barr Stadium last Wednesday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Animation Research Ltd product manager Sophie Luther and University of Otago Associate Prof Jamin Halberstadt took part in a research project at Forsyth Barr Stadium last Wednesday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
First rugby, then rock 'n' roll, and now research.

Since Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium opened in August 2011, it has been the venue for many rugby games, including Rugby World Cup fixtures, as well as other activities, including an Elton John concert and a recent rodeo.

But a smaller event last week must be one of the more unusual.

About 45 young people, mostly University of Otago students, took part in a research-related feasibility exercise organised by Associate Prof Jamin Halberstadt, of the Otago psychology department.

Another group of people had taken part in another similar two-hour session the previous morning.

Participants were sometimes asked to carry out a few tasks, while organisers used two roof-mounted video cameras, one of them a specialised camera used for tracking players in sports such as golf, to study the ways groups form in public spaces.

The exploratory research work was a joint effort involving the university, Animation Research Ltd (ARL) and Dunedin Venues Management Ltd, the latter making the venue available.

Prof Halberstadt was "excited" about initial progress and said this was the first time that laboratory-style behavioural studies involving group formation had taken place on such a large scale, using the latest in sports tracking cameras.

ARL chief executive and Otago graduate Ian Taylor said it was "very exciting" to be part of a collaborative approach which was exploring the use of the stadium for research purposes.

Dunedin was a small city with a small degree of separation and this collaboration was "just uniquely Dunedin".

While filming had been under way at the stadium last week, other ARL teams had been preparing to cover big international sporting events elsewhere in the world, including test cricket in Adelaide and a golf tournament in Dubai, he said.

-john.gibb@odt.co.nz