58th Annual Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards by Morgan Sharar-Stoppel

The 2016 regional Emmy's were held on December 3rd at the Marriott Magnificent Mile in Downtown Chicago and Banner Collective was fortunate enough to take home the award in two categories! We are so proud of our staff for these achievements and congratulate our fellow colleagues on their awards this year as well!

Banner Collective Emmy Awards:                                                                                             

Outstanding Achievement for Sports Programs- One Time Special: HAT TRICK            

Outstanding Crafts Achievement Off-Air- Graphic Arts/Animation/Art Direction/Set Design- CHICAGO CUBS VIDEO BOARD

Google and the City: The Sequel by Morgan Sharar-Stoppel

First there was VOXEL.  Now, ETHOS.  

It was a 2-project promise when we signed on to work with Google West Loop and their Main Lobby digital art installation initiative. While VOXEL relied solely on animation and graphic design work, ETHOS was a complete Banner team effort.  The end result is a new take on timelapse photography prevalent in today’s industry.

Google Chicago Skyline

 By definition, Ethos is a Greek word meaning “character” and used to describe ideals that characterize a community. For our purposes, it refers to the spirit of a city (Chicago).  We found creative inspiration showing this spirit in a more real, less tourism brochure way. It was a chance to get more intimate with a town that we interact with on a daily basis. Once we decided that Ethos was the way to go, it was a matter of executing the project in a way that aligned with Google’s cutting-edge culture.

The final product is displayed on a massive multi-foot wall comprised of millions of pixels.  Any footage we used stood the risk of losing a lot of resolution to cover that entire space (layman’s terms: it was going to be a blurry mess).  The creative minds of our graphics department determined that timelapses would solve this problem and the concept grew from there.  The footage would be edited in an abstract way and visual design would really enhance the look and feel.

Google Chicago Coffee Shop

Roughly 25 timelapses were filmed over the course of a calendar year and separated into two chapters:  Winter and Summer. Locations were determined by detailed research of “parts unknown” and personal recommendations from locals.  There are still some very iconic spots in our Ethos pieces, but they are shown in less recognizable conditions (Millennium Park Bean topped with snow during a winter storm).  Every decision on the imagery that made the final cut was done with the mindset that we were showing Chicago in an atypical fashion.

Google Chicago Botanical Gardens
Google Millennium Park The Bean
Google Midway Plaissance

To wrap it all up in a hip Google bow, our Motion Graphics department took all of the footage and worked their visual design magic. It was important to approach the editing process by addressing individual shots with a big picture mindset. “Important Aspect Number Two” was the presence of the Google brand, which the audience will recognize in the geometric and color details. 

 Putting this type of project together was a creatively enriching and new experience for the Banner staff that we thoroughly enjoyed. The architecture and special elements of each timelapse drove the animation and presented a unique challenge each time. Reflective elements allowed the designers to composite shapes into them so they looked like they were actually part of the real environment. The ultimate beauty of this concept is the intricacy of the details that allows someone to discover something new every time he watches the video. 

Google Chicago Landscape

#FlyTheW by Morgan Sharar-Stoppel

2016 was quite the baseball season for Chicago (to put it extremely mildly). The opportunities we were given covering the sights and sounds of the entire experience with the Chicago Cubs - the first pitch of spring training to the last out of the World Series- was nothing short of amazing.  

From going behind-the-scenes at some of the most pivotal moments, witnessing the passion and dedication while filming in bars around Chicagoland, traveling to and documenting road games, all culminating with the revelry outside the streets in Wrigleyville; our goal was to focus our lens on capturing the broad spectrum of angles and capture as much as we possibly could.   

Amazingly, the momentous occasion of achieving such a milestone didn't climax at Game 7 as we stood atop the roofs of Wrigley Field during Game 7 watching crowds stare, wait, anticipate for the “World Series Champions” text to appear on the marquee.  It was when we hopped on the buses and joined in attendance as the parade of millions made its way through the city to Grant Park. 

We will forever cherish being a part of an experience that gave us a front-row seat to witness history in the making. We had the privilege of interacting with the lifelong fans, the fans who work at Wrigley Field each day, and the youngest generations of fans who for years watch their parents (and grandparents and so on) ride out the historic drought and joined in the hope just the same.  

The Cubs flew the ultimate "W" flag and to have been given the chance to take part in just a sliver of the experience is an incredible honor for Banner Collective.

 

Chicago Cubs World Series Champions Parade by Morgan Sharar-Stoppel

The Chicago Cubs are the 2016 World Series Champions.  It goes without saying that Banner is extremely grateful and amazed at the opportunity we had to cover the team throughout this historic season, all of which culminated at the Championship Parade & Rally on November 4th.  Below are just a few snap shots of our staff filming the team, crowd and general revelry!

Hudson Shuffle by Morgan Sharar-Stoppel

The project with Hudson Shuffleboard is one that exhibits two kinds of artistry coming together.  The profound craftsmanship Hudson produces - paired with our medium of video - defines the term of “creative collaboration.”

As a company built on the foundation of creativity, we strive to keep our workplace as one that balances work-life and play.  The custom shuffleboard provided by Hudson is a large part of this type of atmosphere.  Since it arrived in our office, the shuffleboard has contributed to our vision of an environment of flexibility, productivity, and growth - with only minimal trash-talking and competitiveness.

To learn more about Hudson Shuffleboard and it’s unique story, check out the video we produced below!

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.