- Create a one-of-a-kind intro video for the Golden Knights inaugural season that would play before each home game at T-Mobile Arena
- Set the bar for the debut of major league sports in Las Vegas and capitalize on the unique market with a Vegas-style video that would be distinctly different from other hockey venues
- Produce high-end, over-the-top video introduction with an entertainment value that could compare with other Vegas attractions
- Tell a captivating story about the brand of a new team with no history to pull from
- Set the pre-game tone, without relying on players or highlights
- Final video concept needed to accommodate both ice projection and live on-ice battle
Creating an impressive intro video is a lot of work. And first-year expansion teams have a lot to accomplish to get a franchise off the group. The Vegas Golden Knights in-house video team knew all this and wanted to bring in a team to work with them to produce their intro video for the regular season. Our team was brought onto the project on in early September of 2017. With the home opener for the Golden Knights only five short weeks away, we got right to work.
The team already had a preliminary concept in mind, which included a script and visuals for reference. Once we had those, our team in Akron began talking to the Golden Knights’ team in Las Vegas to discuss ideas, tweaks and to outline the requirements for the project. Everyone agreed that it was imperative that the intro video had to not only tell the story of their newly established brand, but also had to show off what was going to make hockey in Las Vegas different.
LOCATION SCOUTING AND COORDINATING
Once the overall logistics had been discussed, two of our team members were off to Las Vegas to meet with the Golden Knights in person. Planning and other logistical tasks, like location scouts and talent interviews, had to be completed before the other members of our team got to Las Vegas and video shoots could begin. They also took care of setting up a home base for the full team when they arrived.
The first step was to start calling places and making contacts in Vegas as potential shooting locations. The schedule for the shoots was tight, so our team had to select and work with many different locations and get their buy-in and their cooperation in order to make sure all the video shoots ran as smooth as possible in the coming weeks. With some help from a few established members of the Golden Knights video team, we were able to secure over 15 places to film, including a horse ranch and a forge. We had also worked with some sourced b-roll footage of Las Vegas that we sorted through and determined which shots we could use to supplement our own video footage.
While on the location scouts, our team was also busy figuring out what gear was going to be needed for each shoot. We worked with our team back in Akron to make a detailed shot list, and from that, a full list of gear that had to be brought out to Las Vegas. The shot lists were then used to coordinate with the previously scouted locations to put together a production calendar for the next two weeks of filming. With all that in place, the remaining PEG crew members headed to Las Vegas with 14 cases full of cameras and production gear.
The video shoots began the morning after our full crew had arrived in Vegas. The production schedule called for 11 days of shooting with a crew of three people for most of those days. The time before and after the shoots were to make sure our team could have time to get to locations, set up and complete shoots with plenty of time left for meetings and calls with the Golden Knights’ team almost every morning and running errands, like picking up props and costumes, in the evenings.
Over the next 11 days, our team was all over the greater Las Vegas area on a wide variety of shoots. From working inside industrial buildings and big casinos to outside in canyons and on The Strip, from working with horses to NHL players to promo team members dressed like villains on the side of a mountain – every day was different. The key was to be flexible and to be ready for whatever changes might come up.
Since it was first time most of the people and places involved in these shoots had worked with the Golden Knights franchise, our team wanted to be sure we were making a good first impression with all participants, who so generously gave their time. We were sure to go into all the shoots with a solid plan, so that we could be respectful of everyone’s time and execute everything efficiently. Even with Knights players themselves, it was important to move quickly, because we often only had a few minutes with each one to get all of the necessary shots.
OPENING TIME LAPSE
During the concepting phase, it was decided that the opening of the video would start in a totally dark arena and have the sunrise to introduce the light. Since it was the first shot of the video, we wanted to be sure that it was the best possible shot. Our team did a lot of research pre-shoot to figure out the path of the sun and where to position the camera. It took three days of waking up before the sunrise before the team was confident that we had the perfect shot.
Each night after the shoot had wrapped, the team returned to our home base to review the footage from that day. This allowed team members to start going through the footage and begin editing the video while the rest of the crew was out on other shoots. All of the footage was sub-clipped, and the best shots were pulled out for use in the final video.
Since the footage was not necessarily shot in order, the script and a scratch track voiceover was used to start laying out the story. Even though the video timing could not be completed without the final voiceover and score, the sound design, which is done scene by scene, was able to be worked on throughout the editing process. Color correction and animations were also done piece by piece as the individual shots were completed.
ANIMATION AND SPECIAL EFFECTS
The animations and specials effects used in the intro video took multiple team members working simultaneously to get them all completed in such a short time frame. But we had an efficient system in place to ensure that everything was not only finished, but cohesive. Each visual effect had a purpose and made the video more impactful than it would have been otherwise. Everything from the sparks to the gold beams to the smoke surrounding the players was used to bring the piece to life.
VOICEOVER AND SCORE
Finding the right voiceover for the video was crucial. Our team listened to several voice actors and found the woman who became the voice of the Golden Knights. They have used her voice for several other pieces of their in-game production.
The original music for the video was done by Tyler Bates, a composer who has done scores for major motion pictures like Guardians of the Galaxy and John Wick. We had rough ideas of what the music had to sound like and we knew it had to be percussive, so the Golden Knights’ drum line could be incorporated in the live event. Members of our team listened to his previous work and pulled references for tempo and mood, and then sent initial thoughts to Bates with visuals for him to work from for the first draft of the video. We then collaborated with him, sending a rough cut of the video, so that the music and the visuals could work together to create the perfect mood and create the maximum impact. This collaboration with him and the Golden Knights’ in-house production team throughout the process helped lead to an amazing score for the video.
The Vegas Golden Knights intro video became an iconic part of their show almost immediately. It helped set the tone for their inaugural season and showed that their game presentation was going to be anything but traditional. Even as the season progressed into playoffs and the story evolved, the storytelling during the ceremonies stayed true to the original video. The intro has become emblematic of the team itself through its first season and has gained national attention throughout the sports community. There are been countless articles written about the video, the theatrics and the overall production level brought by the Golden Knights franchise. The full impact they have had on future game entertainment in hockey, and across all other sports, is sure to be long-lasting.