Under these Lights

I recently had the privilege to join the team of Good Kicks Media in New York City. I’m now working as Creative Director next to a talented group of storytellers, designers, and visual wizards. This is a welcomed change for my career, and a boost to keep learning and growing my visual craft.

Right off the bat, on my first week on the job, I was tasked with taking a small project from shoot to completion. ESPN needed to create a fifteen second generic spot for College Football, to be shown throughout the season. The spot will convey the general look and feel of the Sunday Night Football brand, rather than specific games or topical content.

The concept exposes the players, their preparation, the energy of the fans, the great playmaking, and the history written “under the stadium lights”.

Under the guidelines of ESPN Creative Directors, and with the help and visual boards from ESPN Creative Works, we put together a plan of action. The idea was to shoot stadium lights organically turning on, and shinning down upon the field.

At Good Kicks we’re fully equipped for every stage of pre, production, and post. This made my job more exciting. The job gets a bit easier when you can count with your company support at all levels, from concept to delivery.

In a span of one week, and with two other shoots going at the same time, we put together a crew and found our portable stadium light! I learned that in the entire East Coast you can find plenty of “working” light towers, but the big Musco type “stadium light towers” are only available from two companies, one in Louisiana, the other in Indiana… for logistics we brought our “star” light tower from Indiana and set up location at a light rental house in New Jersey called The Lighthouse.

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At The Lighthouse, they have a studio which we use to shoot close ups of individual lights. I wanted to capture intimate images of the filaments of the bulbs being turned on, so we put them on a dimmer to slowly record the grow of the filament incandescence. We also experimented taking the encasing of the filaments, exposing them to oxygen, so they will slowly smoke and burn into a small flame.

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Outside, our light tower was prepared to be turned on. These lights take around 5 minutes to be fully lit, and after being turned off, they need about 25 minutes to cool down, before they can be turned on again. We had to plan the shot list around this fact, in order to get all the shots we needed for the beginning and body of the spot, plus a few compositions that could serve as end page for the promo.

I decided to bring an anamorphic lens to shoot the light tower. With this lens I’ll be able to obtain organic flares, light bleeds, and chromatic aberrations directly on camera. These images came out beautiful and became the main images in the final spot.

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In post, I added a dramatic color grading bringing out the blue and teal hues of the lights, added digital glints and glares to the scenes, and composed layers of particle dust moving in front of the lights. The anamorphic streaks of light did the rest on the transitional scenes. For the body of the spot we complemented the football shots with the same tonality, and added light leaks to keep the invasion of lights as a motive.

For the end page, I animate the Sunday Night Football text as if the letters were filaments turning on, and composed the page over a circular close up of a light lamp.

At the end, the project was so well received by the ESPN team, that they decided to turn my “one off” light shoot into the official look of the entire season campaign for College Football…!!!!

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