Behind The Scenes

Employees get into the spirit, show their colors for Rivalry Week open

I readily admit I have painted my face on occasion.

Quite a few times for Halloween, and yes, once or twice when I was a skater in my teenage years (but that was more about channeling my inner Robert Smith — and I don’t mean the former NFL star turned ESPN college football analyst of the same name).

Sadly, it was never in support of a favorite team or for work.

Approximately two dozen ESPN employees checked it off their bucket list this past week when they participated in a shoot for the special animation video that will accompany the company’s 16th Rivalry Week hoops initiative. Each telecast from Monday, Feb. 6 to Monday, Feb. 13 will include the video, featuring a compilation of employees with face paint representing a school logo or mascot mixed with game highlights and set to the tune of Tokyo Police Club’s Favourite Colour.

It will be used to open the telecasts and as the networks go to and from commercial breaks.

The shoot was a multi-department endeavor that started in production with an idea from associate producer Tara Baker, who was also responsible for recruiting the partakers.

“We always think of rivalries as intense and dramatic, which they often are, but I wanted to put more of a fun feel to the week, channeling the atmosphere and crowds,” said Baker.

Baker took her concept to others for input and cross-departmental support to come up with a video that would be fresh and capture the excitement of a week that showcases some of the best rivalries in basketball and all of sports. Then it was time to staff the shoot.

An ESPN employee sports the University of Florida's school colors in the Rivalry Week opening.

“I gathered co-workers to volunteer their time to have their faces painted for appearance on camera. I was able to get about 20 people from event production, studio production, digital media and a few other departments for the spot. And I didn’t have to bribe them… just make promises not to use the photos as blackmail later.”

To achieve the quality and specialized look of the various team logos and mascots, Baker hired a professional body and face painter.

After all the pre-shoot set-up, additional employees stepped in to finalize the creative and shoot and edit the content, including senior photographer Chuck Samataro, editors Jay Fiedler and Bettina Shore from production, creative services Paul Brown, Carolyn Bolduc and Brian Girardin, and selection of music by Kevin Wilson and Phil Hanson.

School logos or mascot representations used in the video include Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Syracuse and Virginia Tech. The piece will also feature colors that represent multiple programs: orange and blue; purple; orange; red and black; green; gold; and maroon.

“I threw out in a meeting about changing the open for Rivalry Week and Tara, who wasn’t in the meeting, nailed it,” said Jay Levy, ESPN senior coordinating producer. “The end product from this talented group encapsulates the passion, traditions, fun and college feel — all the elements we wanted.”

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