A Lights Out Partnership with Old Dominion University

Take a look behind the scenes of our video shoots at Old Dominion University this past season and learn how we produced unique LED content for the basketball events.

Bob Lee, Creative Director for Daktronics Creative Services, joins us as a guest blogger this week as he reflects on one of his favorite projects from the last year, the work that went into the project from a content standpoint and what made it a success.

Over the last few years, our Creative Services team had the opportunity to work with Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Virginia, on a variety of content. For the 2019 football season, an on-site Daktronics Event Producer joined the team at ODU, and we were able to work with university staff and the producer to create custom content needed for the production.

These conversations around their football production transitioned into the basketball season and we were able to help them plan for that as well. Prior to the start, I visited the ODU campus for an on-site video shoot. The goal of this shoot was to capture the assets needed to produce two tunnel intro videos for the ODU men’s basketball team, as well as a countdown hype video that would be played just before tipoff. The ODU women’s team had requested the same content but wanted an additional warm-up video with a more casual, behind-the-scenes feel.

The overall theme for both teams this season was “Lights Out,” so I knew we needed to emphasize that theme through these videos. Thin RGB Astera bulbs have become very popular and videographers are using them to frame scenes of light the subject then interacts with. This seemed like the perfect way to emphasize the message while using something that many fans may not have seen before. In the men’s basketball videos, we created a tunnel of light surrounding the players. We incorporated last year’s highlights as well as drone b-roll footage since that is expected in productions of this level these days.

Leading up to the week of the video shoot, we presented a visual journal to ODU staff that demonstrated the creative as well described the shots we would need. The journal consisted of a dozen thumbnails representing the set design, player framing and post effects. We turned the shot-list into storyboard frames to help the crew visualize what was needed. Ethan Sevilla, Creative Services Account Manager, was on-site the week prior to the shoot and spent time identifying possible locations. We reviewed approximately 30 spaces, then narrowed them into general categories based on the size, ambient light, electricity and weather.

Originally, we only planned to shoot the intro videos, but ODU later asked if we could also include headshots to match the overall theme. With that in mind, I decided that running a second set would be necessary.

Because much of the skill and equipment was contracted, the logistics for projects like this can get tricky. We worked with several grip vendors from neighboring states and they met us on site the first night to review the plan and detail what equipment we would have on-hand.

We had an eight-person crew including a director of photography, gaffer, second director and a drone operator that doubled as a camera operator that did an amazing job rolling with the punches during the shoots. The team arrived on site with the plan to begin production at 7 AM the next day.

We encountered every possible challenge from rain on the first day to parking issues due to construction. There was even a power outage midway through the men’s basketball shoot. During the women’s basketball shoot, the arenas emergency lights wouldn’t allow for complete darkness in the gym where we were shooting. When the facilities team couldn’t figure out how to turn them off, we set-up giant 35-foot flags to block out the ceiling.

ODU also decided last-minute that they wanted a foggy and dramatic environment for the woman’s shoot. So, we were able to quickly source a fog machine from a local staging company just a few hours prior. However, the biggest challenge we encountered was during the men’s basketball shoot, which we had to relocate the hallway of an administration building. The hallway was 7 feet wide and 8 feet tall and none of the grids we designed to hold the lights would fit in the space. We quickly regrouped, staggered some smaller grids that fit the space and taped a dozen lights to the ceiling and walls to accomplish a consistent look.

Overall, the shoots came together despite these challenges and the final product was just what ODU was looking for. Our digital artists were able to take the footage and create a half-dozen videos that debuted during the first home basketball games of the season. Seeing all of our work come together and how we seamlessly tied the concepts across all the displays was a great way to wrap up this project. And we look forward to working with Old Dominion on future projects.

Learn more about our Creative Services team and offerings at http://www.daktronics.com/creativeservices.

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