CSMA Master Class: Red Productions Leads a Sports Video ‘Revolution’
Since its inception, the College Sports Media Awards have recognized the best in the college-sports-production arena. As technology and production techniques improve, the ability to create high-quality video on any budget has proliferated significantly. At the College Sports Video Summit in June, 16 productions were honored for their contribution to sports video. Each Friday this summer, SVG is proud to offer an in-depth look at the personalities and programs that have raised the bar for what college sports video is capable of.
Taking a walk through the offices of Red Productions in Fort Worth, TX feels more like a stop in the ultimate game room. In one corner, there’s a foosball table; in the other, a television hooked up with Rock Band. Over in the kitchen is a kegerator and an espresso machine. The place oozes Generation Y, a page out of the Google and Pixar playbooks.
Whatever is going on inside this office, though, is clearly working. With only seven full-timers on staff, Red Productions bested the likes of ESPN, NBC Sports, and Turner Sports when its production “Revolution,” a promotional video made for the Texas Christian University football team, won the College Sports Media Award for Best Promo, PSA, or Video Marketing Campaign in the National Networks/Professional division.
“I literally took a picture of that nomination list and sent it to my folks,” laughs Chris Rodriguez, director/DP/producer at Red Productions. “That was one of the coolest days I’ve had in a long time, just to see our production coming up against those big names. I mean, to be up against College Gameday? I watch that every Saturday morning, I’m a huge college-football fan.”
Promos for March Madness Live, Notre Dame football, or even College Gameday could not take down “Revolution,” a high-octane, jarring, amusement-park thrill ride of a production that leaves viewers wanting to run through a wall. And for its client, that was exactly the goal.
Fostering a Relationship
Red Productions was founded by Justin “Red” Sanders, a film graduate of TCU, and quickly established itself as a reputable production house.
Its portfolio has grown over just a short time to include employee-orientation videos for Coca-Cola, in-stadium hype videos for the Dallas Cowboys, promotional spots for non-profit organizations like Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth and Samaritan House, and even an upcoming feature film.
Red Productions’ successes with TCU certainly didn’t sprout overnight. The production company has steadily developed a relationship with the private university over the past half decade. After the company did work for the academic side, head coach Jim Schlossnagle of the TCU baseball team came around looking to put a little highlight reel together with clips the team had assembled.
With each year, Red Productions was granted more access and more creative freedom. In the second year, the production team was given more leeway to stage and edit together a pregame hype video to be used on the stadium video board prior to games. In the third year, Schlossnagle inquired about creating a recruiting video. Aware of NCAA rules that forbid creating personalized videos for recruits, the coach was extra careful in finding just the right project.
The solution was to create a video about the coach and his philosophies and let prospective students find it online themselves. It took about a week for the Red team to produce the script for a video titled “Quiet Confidence.” It proved a tremendous success, garnering more than 300,000 views on YouTube and Vimeo combined and led to a flood of e-mails of support from fellow coaches and players from around the county.
“As a recruiting tool,” says Rodrgiuez, “I think we stumbled upon something that had never been seen before.”
Coming into this past season, Schlossnagle gave the Red team free rein to be as creative as they wanted to be. That led to the production of “The Grind,” which quickly shattered the number of viewers of “Quiet Confidence” and was also nominated for a CSMA in the Special Feature category.
From the Diamond to the Gridiron
Following its baseball successes, the Red Productions team met with the TCU athletic department last summer to discuss the need for a stadium crowd video for a Horned Frogs football team coming off a Rose Bowl victory the season before.
The project proved to be a tricky one because TCU football head coach Gary Patterson would not grant cameras to film his practices and could arrange for only two of his players to work with the film crew for about 45 minutes. Needing to work around those descriptions the Red team went to thinking outside the box.
“We decided to make this about the community and rally that base,” says Rodriguez. “It’s a small town in Fort Worth, and TCU had just won the Rose Bowl so we had a lot to showcase there.”
All the staged shots in the video were filmed using the RED ONE Digital Cinema Camera, the company’s camera of choice. The TCU athletic department provided all game footage, and the piece was edited together using Apple Final Cut Pro.
The feel of the video was a simple one. “Let’s send them into an epileptic seizure,” Rodriguez said to his editing partner.
“My editor and I scrutinized every frame and every edit of that piece,” Rodriguez says. “I must have seen that piece at least 500 times. The coolest part, though, was timing that all out and seeing people’s first reaction to seeing it. You’re in the edit room for so long that, for you, the cool parts start washing away. It’s not as cool the 50th time you’ve seen it. But, when you see fresh eyes on it and you can see them react to it, it was a really cool feeling to know that we may have hit the mark here.”