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So You Want To Make Intro Video With Smoke

So You Want To Make Intro Video With Smoke

So you say you’re tired of the same old Hype-Intro Video with highlights cut to really theatrical epic music. We get it. Seriously, You want something with “PRODUCTION VALUE.” That’s one of those buzzwords you’ll hear video production people say a lot. It’s something most folksoutside of the creative community don’t care a whole lot about. And that’s not a knock on them. They’re very concerned about things like the bottom line and keeping 16 other head coaches happy. Yikes. However, if you can get a majority of the cooks in your video kitchen vaguely aware of “production value” it will make everybody a little happier when these things finally play on the video board and on your mobile devices.

You can buy your team all of the cool new cameras, gadgets, and smoke grenades you want, but a high-quality video is not only about pointing, shooting and looking tough on camera.

It’s about all of the other ‘tiny’ things:

  • Idea
  • Preparations
  • Storytelling
  • Script
  • Location
  • Cinematography
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Staging
  • Editing
  • Color Correction
  • Graphic Elements
  • Music
  • Sound Engineering
  • File Encoding


I could go on and on. That’s why movie and television awards shows are so long.

There’s a difference between the videos that stand out and the ones that look like all the others. And it’s not budget, y’all. It just comes down to taking care of the little things and not taking short cuts.

Now, we here at Old Hat can only control so many things when it comes to a video and a video shoot, I’ll discuss that a little more in a bit. Our team can do a cool video, but for us to pull off something like we did at Illinois back in July you need a ton of buy-in and support from Illinois Athletics Marketing and Illinois Football.

We are absolutely nowhere without the high-level of communication and coordination completed by those two camps. We needed to secure five different locations and determine power sources at each place. We needed campus security and fire to be alerted that there might be reports of heavy orange smoke. We needed a coupleof folks to run with smoke grenades over a span of three hours. We needed to secure some workout equipment from Strength & Conditioning. We needed to secure game-ready gear from the Equipment team. We needed eight student athletes to give up one of their evenings doing things that might make them feel kind of silly in full uniform and pads in 90-degree heat. Oh, and we needed them to sell it to the camera. Want to see wide receiver, Mike Dudek’s face when we told him to catch a football in a giant plume of orange smoke?

“I can’t see anything!” – The Dude.

Get the point yet? You can’t just throw a shoot together. I mean, you can, but the proof is in the pudding. Your team has got to have a Sabrina, a Michelle, a Kassidy, a Giana, a Davontay, an Alex, a Madison and a Brad. Total buy in. All on the same page. Getting stuff done.

For Old Hat’s part, it started with presenting this team a few different concepts: Rain, giant light panels, green screen, night-vs-day, practical-vs-unique locations, uniforms-vs-practice gear. The one that stuck: Smoke in football practical and unique campus locations.

Next up for us: How to add production value to this smoke concept. Without production value, you’ve just got another sports marketing gimmick. Here are a few of the inspiration images and shoot screenshots:

Add in a little storytelling, that may or may not have once been compared to that storming the castle scene from Beauty and Beast, some solid directing and acting, as well as lighting, a total Brad Wurthman music find and some of the best post-production artist work around, and you’ve got something pretty cool and unique. Something you’re proud to watch on a giant screen at least six times during the season.


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