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Hornet Animation Creates Breakthrough Video for New York Rangers

(December 26, 2001)
The opening of the NHLs 2001-2002 season came with extra excitement for fans of the New York Rangers.

This season, with the creation of new video intros for the team, Hornet Animation has taken content to a whole new dimension of richness and quality.

Before, the experience of watching pre-game video intros was an entertaining experience (eclipsed by the question "When is the game going to start?"). Now, Hornets innovative images serve to ratchet up the crowds anticipation to see their team. The Ranger's intro pays special tribute to the city of New York and projects the enthusiasm that bonds Americans together. Hornet and SCTV, the New York-based production company with whom Hornet collaborated, were not only able to capture the in-your-face thrill of the sport, but also the pride Americans are experiencing during this patriotic period.

Ryan Halkett, Game Operations Manager for the team, said: "The goal for the Rangers opening video was to celebrate our great country and city, the fact that we play in Madison Square Garden, ?The Worlds Most Famous Arena, the Rangers organization and its players. We wanted to capture all of these elements in a dramatic and appealing atmosphere."

The intro opens with a dynamic, stylized sequence of hockey action (including many close-ups at ice level), which segues into an image of the American Flag gracefully billowing. The accompanying sound is of skates swiftly shredding the ice and, with the whacks and the swooshes of the puck, the scenes fade in and out of familiar New York City landmarks and skyline shots, landing finally on Madison Square Garden, home of the Rangers.

To shoot the opening sequence, SCTV built a temporary set under the arena seating at Madison Square Garden. The set included a lighting rig, lightning strikes and multiple surfaces (plexi-glass and metal) for projecting video images.

According to Steve Cohen, owner of SCTV, "the job was to make the player portraits look as dramatic and as cutting-edge cool as possible, a task that involved several factors. First was lighting. We were working with a lot of raw space in the bowels of Madison Square Garden, and we had to think of a way to make this setting work to the advantage of the overall piece."

The decision was made to utilize pinpoint lighting for objects like iron beams and other metallic structures that communicate on film with a very gritty, industrial feel. Then the lightning strikes were added, which give a larger-than-life quality to the players.

"The rest was up to Hornet -- to cut it all together,"said Cohen. "They took the footage that we shot and brought it to the next level, and the result is a piece that gets me fired up every time I watch it. As a director, I couldn't be happier with the final product."

Greg Bedard, vice president of Hornet, stated: "A key challenge that faced the artists at Hornet was keeping a consistent look and feel throughout the piece. One reason this proved to be problematic is some elements (the city footage and team highlights) were shot on Beta SP and others were shot on 16mm. The artists resolved this by employing color correction techniques to treat the Beta SP footage in a manner that gives it a more film-like appearance."

Yet another challenge was to maintain consistency throughout the highlight section of the video. Some of the highlights were projected on a plexi-glass backdrop and filmed on 16mm. Others highlights were live game action shot on BetaSP and composited directly into the piece. In order to integrate the two different styles of footage, Hornet artists Greg Harvey and Engsan Kho, employing the new 3D capabilities of Adobe After Effects 5, created virtual 3D sets that matched the environment and the look of the actual live shoot.

Finally, to complete the piece, Hornet worked with Barasch Music and Sound for the atmospheric effects and hockey sounds, which weave an additional thread of coherence through each completely unique segment of the piece.

"I am very pleased with our end product," said Halkett. "The first time we ran the video, and the American flag came on the scoreboard, the arena roared. It was very exciting. Hornet did an excellent job in taking all of the above elements and crafting a piece that is dynamic and full of energy-- it flows nicely from start to finish. Hornet did a great job in stylizing the footage to keep a consistent look and energy throughout the piece. This piece was a true success."

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Related Keywords:NHL, Hornet, animation, 3d, graphics, video, New York Rangers


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