The Art of the Television Commercial: Wintrust Edition

Wintrust Financial is a Chicagoland banking institution rooted in community values.  "Chicago's Bank" also has a relationship with both Chicago baseball teams and recently tapped Banner to create television commercials to run during the MLB season.  The goal was to showcase Wintrust as a partner in both baseball fandom and everyday life.

Wintrust Cubs Ivy

Banner was to produce two separate spots: one for the Chicago Cubs and its northside fans, and one for the Chicago White Sox and the southside fans. The teams and specific imagery would be different, of course, but the shooting techniques would remain the same to create a cohesive campaign. These techniques include overhead and timelapse shots of food and jump cuts from an ATM withdrawl to stadium point-of-purchase.

When it came to deciding when to capture the footage, the production crew had to ensure the spirit of each team carried through. Day games at Wrigley are iconic and the crew really emphasized this by using as much natural daylight as possible for each shot across the entire shoot date. The exploding scoreboard and fireworks show is synonymous with the White Sox so production structured the shoot to flow through a typical night game.  It was also important to keep each piece extremely authentic, which meant filming real-time during each game to capture true stadium atmosphere. Fun fact: both spots were filmed in a single game-day!

Wintrust White Sox Nachos

The authentic nature of the piece lends itself to natural challenges that had to be overcome through equipment selection. Multiple takes are not guaranteed and navigating through thousands of people requires efficient mobility. By pairing a Zacuto shoulder rig system and an Odyssey 7Q+ monitor with a C300 mkii (strong backs carrying backpacks with lenses also helped), the crew of two cinematographers created a very compact footprint that still captured the right footage and is quintessential "Banner" production.

After the Banner motion graphics department incorporated the custom creative treatment to each edited sequence, the two spots were ready to make their broadcast debut.  Please enjoy the finished products, affectionately known as the Wintrust "Numbers" series. 

Wintrust "Numbers": Cubs Edition

Wintrust "Numbers": White Sox Edition


Sights and Sounds of the 10th annual Chicago Convention

July 21-23rd marked the 10th time Chicago Blackhawks fans and players convened at the Chicago Hilton for the annual Fan Convention.  Banner Collective joined the festivities, filming sights and sounds, behind-the-scenes moments, and footage for future Blackhawks TV content.

In true Blackhawks' fashion, the event did not disappoint.  Alumni reminisced about the good-old days and new-comers were welcomed with a 10,000 person reception.  Opening Ceremonies had an extra treat, with fan-favorites Patrick Sharp and Brendan Saad returning to walk the stage donning the Indian Head sweater.  A gathering one hates to miss, Banner put together a recap of the ceremonies for those unable to attend.

The weekend's schedule had an additional item on the agenda for our camera crew, thanks to the web-series "On the Clock". A panel discussion of behind-the-scenes making of the series included an appearance by editor Justin Zipser.  Justin recounted his experience in creating the project to the crowd, estimating he spent over 75 hours sorting through footage to put the four episodes together. The chance to shed light on the video production process and celebrate a Banner creation together with that project's audience was the perfect wrap-party for On the Clock and the Blackhawks Convention Weekend. 

Justin Zipser at Blackhawks Convention
On the Clock Blackhawks Convention

Sights and Sounds of the 2017 NHL Draft

On June 23rd, the NHL held its draft in Chicago for the first time in history.

The parking lots of the United Center are usually quiet during the end-of-June, early July months, but this year was noticeably different.  Crowds hit the pavement to test their skills in accuracy shooting, pose with trophies and most important, watch the (fingers crossed) future stars of their beloved teams walk the Draft stage.

2017 NHL Draft at United Center

For Banner Collective, this weekend was the culmination of a several-months-long project  creating a webisode series, "On the Clock." Our sports production crew spent countless hours with the Chicago Blackhawks' scouting and hockey operations departments, filming the behind-the-scenes action that even the most avid of NHL fans may not be aware of.  "On the Clock" ultimately provides a glimpse into that unseen process.

The documentation was an eye-opener for all involved at Banner, and shining a light on the work of Blackhawks' amateur scouts was one of the best parts of working on the series. Throughout the calendar year, these scouts leave their families for weeks on end to travel to remote locations across the world. They make their way to countless arenas to watch countless amateur hockey players and sleep in countless hotel rooms all while trying to recognize minute details in skating or demeanor that separate players from the rest of the pack. Our cameras were with some of them in Windsor, Ontario and Buffalo, New York as the team readied itself for the completion of a final draft board. 

If I look back on my playing days, it’s just sort of the same feeling: basically, we’re a team.
— Alex Rouleau, reflecting on the draft process

Loaded with the information gained from these grueling trips, they gathered for the annual amateur scout meetings in April, marking the official start of the drafting process. Banner watched in admiration as Vice President of Amateur Scouting, Mark Kelley, helped corral the varying opinions into a unified draft board that eventually gets whittled down by June 23rd. The NHL Draft is the exciting final piece of the incredibly large puzzle that consists of equal parts analytical data, gut feeling and trust amongst peers.

This year's draft was extra special because the festivities took place on home soil at the United Center and the Blackhawks had a first-round pick for the first time since 2014. Banner had Kelley and Senior Vice President and General Manager, Stan Bowman, mic'd up on both days of the draft (another fascinating aspect of this project). The duo navigated the real-time chaos of possible trades and potential draftees being selected by other teams with such an even-keeled temperament that the end result felt almost elementary to our camera operators watching behind the lens.


Blackhawks 2017 draft pick, Henri Jokiharju

The final episode of "On the Clock" will allow viewers to watch the gauntlet after a draft selection is made. Chicago ultimately held the 29th pick of the 2017 NHL Draft's first round, and with it, chose Henri Jokiharju. He barely caught his breath before heading into the interview room for his first taste of the Chicago — and league-wide — media. Banner cameras followed his every step as he moved from station to station, getting pictures taken and signing jerseys, taking it all in stride.

Jokiharju eventually got a chance to head into the iconic Blackhawks locker room, He simply looked around for a few moments to reflect. It's this type of moment and access that makes working on a web series like "On the Clock" so enjoyable. We're excited to bring this moment and the many others from the 2017 NHL Draft to viewers.

On the Clock episode 4 airs on Chicagoblackhawks.com on July 12.

Get to Know Banner: The Graphics Department

 

A glimpse into the lives and personalities of....

Aaron Asbury, Mike Fernandez and Jessica Forsythe

We asked our Motion Graphics and Visual Design team a series of random questions. These are their responses.

FIRST THINGS FIRST: WHAT LED YOU TO BANNER COLLECTIVE?

AA: I moved to Chicago in the Summer of 2014 to pursue better work/life balance than I had while living in Los Angeles. While considering freelance and full-time positions, Banner stuck out as a great option due to the awesome people and the chance for me to work with sports.

MF: I had a friend who worked here before I did, and after looking up the company, I knew I had to get in on it.

JF: I worked with Banner while working at my former company. We hired Banner to shoot, edit and add graphics to a video for a tequila brand. After being on set with the crew I went home thinking, "That was the most fun, confident, and excited I have ever felt at work." I knew they had something special and I wanted to be a part of it. I started teaching myself Premier and After Effects and then I bugged Dave and Pat enough until they hired me.

Y'ALL ARE A BUNCH OF TRANSPLANTS. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT CHICAGO?

AA: I love how easy it is to get around town and all of the great restaurants that are in close proximity to wherever you happen to be that day.

MF: Hard to choose! I love to bike, and I bike everywhere, and there aren't many places in the country where I could do that.

 

Google Ethos skyline

JF: The inspiration and energy. It's everywhere. I feel it in my bones when I walk down the street and every single time I see the skyline I get butterflies.


BUILD YOUR PERFECT PIZZA.

AA: I generally go with pepperoni, but my favorite pizza combination is at Piece Pizza: Thin crispy crust, sliced meatballs, with spinach and roasted red pepper. Top it off with Parmesan and red pepper.

JF: Extra red sauce, Pequod's sausage, giardiniera. It has to be from Pequod's.

MF: Cheese, sauce, broccoli, and garlic.

WE SAID THESE WOULD BE RANDOM QUESTIONS: WHAT IS THE NAME OF YOUR BOAT, SHOULD YOU OWN ONE?

MF: The "Ice Cream Barge".

AA: "Voodoo Lady", because of the Ween song.

JF: "Kedzie", after my big fluffy pup love.

WHO REIGNS SUPREME IN A GRAPHICS DEPARTMENT PING-PONG TOURNAMENT?

AA: Duh, it's me. Jessica only beat me in the last Ping-Pong tournament because we played to 11 instead of 21.

JF: It's ME. Obviously. I proved that last Christmas party tournament. Aaron is going to say he is, but he's lying to himself and all of you. I am not a humble winner.

MF: Jessica

BANNER HEARTS ITS COFFEE. LIKE, A LOT.  BUT IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO SLEEP AT ALL, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR EXTRA TIME?

Banner coffee mug

MF: I would build elaborate sculptures out of old Bicycle parts.

JF: I would paint many oil paintings while watching movies, and I would take breaks to lift all the weights and get all the gains.

AA: I would spend a lot more time reading, watching baseball games from decades past, and studying chess theory.


WHAT FICTIONAL PLACE WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRAVEL TO?

MF: Some sort of alien planet where the aliens are dogs, but they can talk.

JF: "O-M-G," Hogwarts. I would do ANYTHING for Harry Potter to be real and to get to go to Hogwarts and study all the magical things, especially apparation, disapparation and transfiguration.

AA: The post-apocalyptic city of New Vegas from the Fallout video game series.

YOUR DEPARTMENT IS THE RESIDENT DJ FOR THE OFFICE. WHO’S YOUR GO-TO BAND/ARTIST WHEN YOU CAN’T DECIDE WHAT TO LISTEN TO?

JF: That depends how mindful I am feeling towards my co-workers. If it were only myself in the office, I would play Tool and Nine Inch Nails very loudly.

AA: Trampled By Turtles.

MF: Montel Jordan.

WHAT IS YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL?

JF: I go back and forth between a cat and a frog. A cat because I love cuddling and being cozy; and a frog because I like to sit in my desk with my knees bent in weird positions.

AA: My spirit animal is probably a bear. Bears are good at facing adversity, enjoy their quiet time and rest, and they are cute bad-{expletive word removed}.

MF: Dolphin.  I'm friendly.

Banner Graphics Department inside

PLEASE NAME YOUR TOP 3 MOST MEMORABLE BANNER MOMENTS.

AA: The Blackhawks Championship Parade, party bus to Medieval Times, and the Hawaiian Shirt party where I might have made everybody too strong of drinks.

JF: The Milwaukee trip (I've never laughed so hard for 2 days straight), when Aaron, Mike and I poke fun at each other (which is every day), Medieval Times (!), and when I came in second place in the Banner Christmas Ping-Pong tournament.

MF: When Ryan crashed the drone, when we all watched the WWE Royal Rumble and every time a train passes by the office window. [Editor's note: the crash was a minor mishap and does not reflect Banner's drone flying capabilities.]

*BONUS QUESTION* FOR THE TWO OF YOU THAT GOT MARRIED THIS YEAR, WHAT WAS THE ONE REQUIREMENT YOU HAD TO HAVE AT EACH OF YOUR WEDDINGS?

MF: Had to have good coffee and donuts.  And "This is how we do it" by Montel Jordan.

JF: This is funny because it was not possible for my to keep the perspective of prioritizing one requirement. I am particular and a delightful control freak so I had many requirements. However, I would say that us writing our own vows was very important to me.

AA: I will tell you mine anyway. I want pizza at my hypothetical wedding. BYOB. 


Get to Know Banner: The Founding Fathers

Banner Founders in Hard Hats
 

A glimpse into the lives and personalities of the men who started it all...

Patrick Dahl and Dave Knickerbocker

We asked the two founders of Banner Collective a series of random questions.  These are their responses.

First things first: Why create Banner Collective?

DK: We had the opportunity to start a company that solved problems for so many companies that are looking for high quality video but want to pay a fair price and be treated well. 

PD: I was excited about the opportunity to start and shape the culture at my own company.

The company's unofficial dress code includes a lot of plaid.  How many flannel shirts will you admit to owning?

PD:  I own approximately 8 plaid shirts and my favorite color combination is blue and green.

DK: I have to confirm but [my wife] Kim counted and at its apex there were like 27 or so.

 

What is the best costume you've ever worn (and we aren't limiting it to Halloween...)?

PD:  One time for halloween my wife was a chef and I was a meatball. I made it myself.

DK: I dressed up as Obi Wan Kenobi and attended a Star Wars movie.  In my defense, I was with my daughter who dressed as Princess Leia.  However, it was my idea in the first place but I tried to weasel out of it at the last second. 

Banner is full of Jedi younglings. Why are you personally a fan of the Star Wars series?

DK: Wow.  I’m a fan on so many levels and for different reasons at different parts of my life.  Right now, sharing it with my kids has made me a bigger fan than ever. 

PD: I am not really a huge fan of Star Wars, but enjoy it as an action movie. I don't think I've seen all of the originals. I also enjoy seeing Dave act like a young boy when it comes to Star Wars.

Between the two of you, who wins in an arm wrestling match?

DK: Arm Wresting – Me.  But in traditional wrestling - Pat.  He’s impossible to move.

PD: Dave. For sure.

We're seeing a lot of classic sitcoms getting a reboot. What's the 1 tv show you want to see revived?

PD: I'd like it if Game of Thrones never ended. 

DK: Alf

Pat Dahl Splash Mountain

Pat Dahl having a Splash Mountain moment

If you're taking one celebrity on a week-long trip to Disney World, who gets the coveted invite?

PD: I'm taking Robin Lopez of the Bulls because he wouldn't judge me for how obsessed I am with Disney World since he's a huge fan himself. He also gets along with my son, Henry.

DK: Will Ferrell.  There are other celebrities that I would want to have dinner with more or have a serious discussion with but at Disney, I imagine this would be a lot of fun. 

Banner's diet is heavy on the pizza. Build your perfect pizza pie for us:

PD: Sausage.

DK: Just Giardiniera [Editor's note: we aren't here to judge if Dave really just wants to eat dough topped with a pickled-pepper relish]

Say time travel is a thing. What era or period are you traveling too?

DK: WWII. I am so fascinated with the greatest generation and view their collective triumph as the most amazing and important accomplishment in the history of mankind.

PD: 60 years in the future so I can see what becomes of my kids!

Banner in Milwaukee

Banner Collective goes to Milwaukee.

To bring it back full circle, name your top 3 memorable Banner moments:

DK:  The first Banner Christmas Party video contest, our 2016 Banner trip to Milwaukee, and landing the Chicago Cubs as a client.

PD: Getting the Cubs account (and the subsequent celebration at 3 Dots and a Dash, going to Milwaukee for a summer trip and moving into our new offices.


Sights & Sounds of Being On the Road Again

Traveling on road trips-- and surviving them-- are key components in any professional sport. Acclimating to a new time zone, learning the nuances of the opposing playing turf and adjusting to the local way of life all play a part in trying to knock an athlete off-balance and give the home team the coveted edge. 

To combat this, you hear athletes talk about routine, especially on the road.  This strategy extends to the non-roster crew. (see: Banner Collective, whose presence is meant to capture and produce content for the teams) We follow the athletes and their rituals and in turn, need to develop systematic processes of our own to generate the best video assets. 

Mornings are times for practices and off-ice/off-field business. Afternoons are editing sessions and prepping gear for the game. (Insert a couple of private moments to relax or explore, too) Then, like the athletes we document, it’s showtime, and we’re in the groove until the final minute or out.

For the teams we follow, the return home hopefully includes a winning record.  For Banner, it’s delivering “Sights & Sounds” videos, pre- and post-game analyses, client promotion fulfillments, and general video archives. Then it’s a quick breath and time to start the homestead routine.


The Art of the Statement Video

A statement video is a video that makes, well, a statement. It’s an engaging, interesting, visual description of a brand’s image and message. It showcases an organization’s culture and gives the viewer a glimpse of the company’s inner workings.

The nature of the company naturally dictates the direction of a statement video. The video is there to answer the question, “Who is Brand XYZ?”   The tone and look should align with how someone answers that question verbally.

The essential elements include sound bites to tell the story, b-roll to add life to the story, and graphics to give the video a nice polished finish. How those elements all come together depends on the organization, its assets, and of course, budget.

 

 

The creative freedom this kind of project affords takes away the need for a ‘standard blueprint.'  We produce statement videos in the manner that best reflects the particular organization. Authenticity is inherent for a project of this sort.

Why make a statement video?  Yes, to make a statement - but it’s more.  To communicate to the fullest the brand’s image and message, make it short and clear, and produce an original statement of endless possibilities.        

Play it for prospective clients before a sales pitch or while sending blind emails. House it on the company website to generate interest in applying for a job. Use as a rallying cry to the current staff or when introducing a new company culture or brand initiative.  It’s a versatile tool for numerous business functions.

A portion of statement videos we've produced can be found in our portfolio, linked below.


Google and the City: The Sequel

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.

 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.

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.

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. 


58th Annual Chicago / Midwest Emmy Awards

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

Sights and Sounds of #FLYTHEW

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.  

Cubs – World Series Game 6: Sights & Sounds

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.   

Budweiser: Chicago Cubs "Uncharted Territory"

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. 

Majestic "Cubs Stories" – Lifelong Fan

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.