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‘Hard Knocks’ Features Amazing Drone Footage of Cowboys’ Practice Facility

In Wednesday’s Hot Clicks: a really impressive job by HBO’s drone operator, a great home run robbery in San Diego and more.

Amazing work by NFL Films

Usually, the football players are the stars of Hard Knocks. This week, it was a drone operator. 

Tuesday’s episode of the HBO series featured a drone zipping through every nook and cranny of the enormous Cowboys practice facility with amazing precision. It was a collaborative effort between NFL Films and Sky Candy Studios of Minneapolis. (You may recognize Sky Candy for its bowling alley tracking shot that went viral earlier this year.)

Since 2016, the Cowboys have practiced at a 91-acre campus in the Dallas suburb of Frisco called The Star. It includes not only the typical things you find at an NFL team’s facility (indoor and outdoor practice fields, a weight room, meeting rooms, offices, etc.) but also retail spaces for shops and restaurants. The drone zoomed through the entire place in one take.

Obviously, being able to pull off that tour in a single take is impressive, but there are a few details that really take it up a notch. Flying through the open windows of a pickup truck is a nice touch, but I’m mainly talking about the people on the ground who had their timing down perfectly. There’s the guy who opened the door to the practice field at just the right moment, and the reporter who started her segment just as she came into view. In the locker room, there’s the guy who throws a towel in a bin just in front of the drone right as another guy walks by with two helmets. According to Peter Schrager of Fox Sports, the team got the perfect shot on the 15th try.

The video also gives a good sense of how cool The Star is. I had dinner there once and was pretty impressed, but HBO has the access to give viewers a closer look than they would ever be able to get in person. Anybody can jog through the retail section or take a yoga class out in front of the indoor stadium, but the continuous trip through the Cowboys’ off-limit areas offers a better look at what it’s really like inside than photos could. 

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