MLB All-Star Game by Morgan Sharar-Stoppel

The ‘Sights and Sounds’ productions are meant to capture the heart of an event.  We took the 2016 All-Star Game as an opportunity to bring the audience off the field and into the atmosphere as a whole.  The intimate access is a unique part of this type of storytelling.  As more than a game recap, the videos focus on details of all proportions.   

Our goal was to shed light on the side of baseball, the side of the people, which is most times left in the shadows.  The Cubs have such great personalities, are tight-knit, and genuinely like each other.  A group like this, one with both talent and connection that reach beyond the field, is camera gold.

There is a lot that goes into filming these types of videos. For our cameramen who worked on the San Diego festivities, Justin Zipser and Will Armistead, challenges were tackled through adaptation.  To acquire as much footage as possible, they had to be extra nimble and alert.  Because of the fast-paced nature of sports, these guys had to shoot all day, edit that night, and post the next morning.  If Dave Knickerbocker and Patrick Dahl hadn’t reminded them to eat and sleep, Will and Justin might have, like Energizer Bunnies, kept going and going (and not stopped)!  

These videos break the confines of the field and give fans the rare opportunity to feel like they are right there, with the team, experiencing the festivities beside them.  We love immersing ourselves in these events and producing videos that, we hope, translate the lasting impressions we’ve had onto the screen.


How To: Vienna Beef's Classic Recipes by Morgan Sharar-Stoppel

The digital world we live in provides ample opportunity for individuals - and companies - to share their diverse talents, passions, and ideas with the masses.  This type of sharing frequently comes in the form of quick and simple instructional videos. Vienna Beef recognized this trend and seized the opportunity to teach its audience how to bring Chicago food staples into the home kitchen. Enter Banner Collective and our task to create “How to Make” recipes videos for several of the Vienna Beef classics.

We set up shop at Vienna Beef’s test kitchen inside their brand new factory. The vast majority of shots were filmed at an overhead, ninety-degree camera angle.  Our Technical Director, Ryan Linich, enjoyed the challenge of building a safe and sturdy rig to make the dramatic angle possible. Constructing this particular type of rig was a first for him and the nature of the shoot provided some interesting challenges. One such obstacle was filming over a hot stove, where the cameramen were worried that the flames could potentially melt the camera. To evade any heat related incidents, employees would continually fan the space between the burners and the camera equipment with towels, taking turns as needed. This simple, but effective solution allowed for the ideal shot and worked up an appetite for testing all of the delicious hot dogs we had prepared during the shoot.


After the assembly of the dogs, we took a “beauty shot” to exemplify the aesthetic of the hot dog in a final reveal. To unveil the finished hot dogs in the most pleasant way, this was the only time the camera wasn't overhead. The angle allowed for us to use a shallow depth of field to draw the eye directly to the temptingly savory hot dog in the foreground.

A shoot as dynamic as this one demanded a group effort. Vienna Beef’s Director of Bistro Products, Jamie Mestan was our hand-model extraordinaire and chef. Her familiarity and comfort with the props and set proved vital in helping us put every puzzle piece in its right place. Ryan happily accepted the position as official taste-tester for the closing shot. With his newly gained skill set, his advice to aspiring taste-testers is to ‘pace yourself’- you may want to eat the whole product all at once, but most shots require multiple takes!

While the primary goal of the recipe series was to demonstrate how to make--and maybe even introduce--a Vienna Beef recipe, the video also aimed to remind viewers that one does not need to be a world-class chef to make the Chicago classics! The challenge was proving this notion by showing the steps in a direct manner that translated well on-camera.  We hope everyone enjoys the end results...and light up those stoves and get to cookin’!


GOOGLE AND THE CITY by Morgan Sharar-Stoppel

Google is a world-renowned company that happens to be part of most people’s everyday life. The company moved its headquarters to the West Loop late last year, and wanted an installation in its main lobby that celebrated both Google and Chicago.  Tasked with the challenge, we began the brainstorming process and the concept of Voxel was formed.   

We initially pitched a handful of ideas to Google but the one that stood out was a video game-style interpretation (“Voxel”) of the four main sectors of Chicago: West Loop, South Side, Downtown and Northside.  It was our goal to showcase the diversity and depth of the city in a unique and slightly quirky way.


The project is a testament to Chicago itself.  Each neighborhood of the city has its own unique style and vibe--and the the Voxel project honored that with its mixture of well-known, vastly appreciated, and personally important features within the city.  

The eye will instantly recognize famous structures like the United Center, Google, The Bean (featured as a cube), Navy Pier, and The John Hancock.  Senior Designer and 3D Specialist, Thomas Jurgensen,  digitally constructed and detailed 80-100 buildings for the piece.  Accordingly, his favorite aspect of the project was designing and ‘voxelating’ the buildings.  He balanced the amount of pixelation with specific detailing to give voxel the novelty of coming off as video game art.           

The video game medium brings several advantages.  The isometric point-of-view allows for more of Chicago to be shown.  This point-of-view also contributes to the overall video game vibe.  Manipulation of both color and pixelation allow us to exaggerate and ‘play up’ the interesting features of the city.  


We were also able to incorporate numerous video game references and personal “easter eggs”.  PacMan causes a traffic jam. There are also details relating to Portal, Sonic, Fallout, Zelda, and Super Mario.  The Fallout vault is Motion Graphics and Compositing Specialist Aaron Asbury’s favorite part of Voxel.  He personally appreciates the subtlety of it, as well as the fact that it’s his favorite game (so he’s kinda biased). Director of Motion Graphics and Animation, Michael Fernandez, likes Star Wars--so he landed the Millennium Falcon at Midway Airport.

To say we enjoyed working on this project with Google is an understatement. We had an idea and were able to run with it. The entire experience has been both fun and enriching. It’s exciting to stop in on occasion to view the installation in person, and we are thankful that Google allowed us to bring Voxel from thought to (digital) reality.


Grandpa Rossy tries to #VoteCubs by Morgan Sharar-Stoppel


Chicago Cubs catcher David Ross is having a ball making sure his final season is one to remember. The baseball veteran even took it upon himself to start spreading the word about how to #VoteCubs for this year's All-Star game and asked us to help. 

Playing off his nickname "Grandpa Rossy", we created three commercials that paid homage David's formidable years where technology wasn't as sophisticated. (Fun fact: It actually takes a lot more work than expected to make footage look like a bad VHS tape) Ross was a great sport about the entire process and his witty personality added a genuine comedy to the shoot. 

We are overwhelmed with the feedback we've received from these commercials and have enjoyed reading the reactions from athletes and fans. Even the star himself gave his stamp of approval on Twitter! Now we just kindly ask that you listen to David Ross and go #VoteCubs!

One of Banner's own is making headlines by Morgan Sharar-Stoppel

It's always exciting and a huge honor to find Banner Collective mentioned in an article or the news, but it's truly special event when one of our employees is individually recognized for his talent and hard work.

The annual Crain's Chicago Business "20 in their 20's" list features a group of young professionals within the Chicagoland area that are making waves within their industry.  This year's list featured a Banner Collective Original, our Director of Photography Matthew Dominick!  We are so proud of him and feel very lucky that we have a chance to work with him every day.  

Make sure to visit the link below to find out why Matthew is someone you should know about! #CCB20s 

Crain's Chicago "20 in their 20's" 2016 list

Banner Collective goes to Washington by Morgan Sharar-Stoppel

The Stanley Cup patiently waits for the President at the White House on Thursday, February 18, 2016.

The Stanley Cup patiently waits for the President at the White House on Thursday, February 18, 2016.

"I went to the White House and met with the President." For this to be such a familiar phrase for the Chicago Blackhawks and Banner Collective when recounting how they spent their past week, shows just how special the story of "3 Cups in 6 Years" is.  What should be a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience has now become something of a regular occurrence. Add in the part that the meeting was with the same President all three times, who hails from the same town you represent, and it becomes a story that's almost indescribable.

The excitement and wonder hasn't diminished with each visit either.  When we gather around the crew that has just returned from the trip and start peppering for stories, each response is the same.  With wide eyes that shimmer with amazement-- and a glint of pleasant shock-- we always hear, "I can't believe I was a part of that." So while we let the crew catch their breath and process what they just experienced, please enjoy these snap shots from the time the Banner Collective when to film the Chicago Blackhawks at the White House....again.

A Year in Review by Morgan Sharar-Stoppel

2015 was quite the "banner" year for Banner (don't let anyone tell you we're not totally creative)! We experienced several firsts for our company, gained some amazing new clients and staff members, and even moved into a new office! As we look forward to 2016, we also want to take a moment to reflect on all of the incredible and major moments from the past twelve months. Join us, wont you?

April: The Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field debuted two new video boards and we were honored to have been tasked with the job of producing content to fill the left field screen.  Opening Day is already an exciting time for us, but it became extra special when we watched the first video play on the big screen in front of a sold-out crowd.

June: We worked with Elk Grove Village to create a brand new campaign for the city, Makers Wanted. It was a new venture for the village, and gave us the chance to showcase our creative and motion design departments. Click here to view a few of those commercials.

August: We traveled to the quaint towns of Ada and Lima, Ohio to produce a piece for Wilson Football. We were there to generate excitement around the start of the High School Football season, but it was us that became lifelong fans of the communities and their people. 

industrial park screen.jpg

September: The big move.  We left our spot near the United Center and headed to the Goose Island, settling into a brand new space that we've made our home. Feel free to stop on by to check it out! 

November: An entire summer in the making, our Blackhawks Championship movie "Hat Trick" premiered at the iconic Chicago Theatre.  Everyone at Banner played a part in the creation of the film, and we are extremely proud of the piece.  Here's a teaser trailer, but we hope you get a chance to experience the entire thing! 

Wilson logo.jpg

December: What felt like a feat of strength and stamina, our motion graphics department accomplished a project none of us had ever seen before. Google was moving into a new office in the West Loop and needed imagery to fill a 30 ft video wallscape.  Banner produced a rendering of downtown Chicago in a style that will feel very familiar to anyone who has played an original Nintendo. 

We hope everyone has a wonderful new year and cheers to 2016!

Chicago Cubs 2015 by Morgan Sharar-Stoppel

So "Back to the Future" wasn't completely accurate, but the Chicago Cubs still played an incredible season.  Since day one of Spring Training, to the final out of the NLCS, there was a buzz around the boys in blue and the numerous "web-gem" worthy highlights added to the excitement surrounding Wrigleyville.  Banner was on the field and in the locker room capturing all of these thrilling moments, which allowed us to produce several videos that will let the magic of the 2015 season to live on through the winter. 

A recap of all action on and off the field during the 2015 NLDS vs St. Louis Cardinals

Sights and Sounds from the 2015 NL Wild Card game in Pittsburgh

A scoreboard feature during the Cubs 2015 season, inspired by Two Truths and a Lie

The introduction video before the team takes the field at Wrigley during the 2015 season