When EURO 2012 kicks off today in Poland and Ukraine, ESPN’s coverage will begin (at 11:30 a.m. ET) with an opening video, The Fire Within, aimed at helping ignite the passion that fans have for this world-class event.
ESPN’s Creative Content Unit and Emerging Technology group worked with Victory Pictures — the production company behind ESPN’s themed Monday Night Football and FIFA World Cup 2010 opens — as well as a group of staff and students from Full Sail University in Winter Park., Fla., to produce the opening video.
But getting the project done wasn’t easy.
In early May, a crew of nearly 50 people, including four stuntmen and a group of semi-pro players, was involved in filming the creative elements at a soccer complex in Sanford, Fla. ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman was also brought in to lend his expertise.
“Our team faced many logistical challenges, including finding a soccer venue that would allow us to bring in such a large cast and crew,” said coordinating producer Julie McGlone of the Creative Content Unit.
“We filmed everything in the middle of the night with pyrotechnics and had to cast soccer-savvy stunt actors comfortable with heading flaming soccer balls. Mother Nature then sent us stormy weather, which is ironic because when the storm passed, we then created our own rain.”
The shoots took place from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. over three straight nights. Even with the grueling schedule, the remote production was a unique hands-on learning experience for the Full Sail students who were able to participate through the university’s Sports Lab Powered by ESPN, which opened in 2010.
“We started planning the project together with Full Sail in February,” said David Saphirstein, ESPN Director of Creative Technology, who is based at the Sports Lab.
“In addition to supplying manpower, they were also able to provide a majority of our grip and lighting equipment for the shoot, which was invaluable.”
A special thank you to students Callen Golden and Jordan Loope, who shot and edited the above video (with original music by Full Sail’s Mike Retherford), which offers a behind-the-scenes look at The Fire Within.
Note: Please do not attempt these tricks at home.
* Colleen Lynch, ESPN’s Associate Director of Technology Communications, contributed to this post