- A bit corny? Sure. But hype videos are still a necessary part of the gameday experience.
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I first fell in love with pregame hype videos in 2012, when I was a cheerleader at Northwestern and the team played this incredible hype video before the players ran out onto the field for every home game. The inside-the-locker-room Pat Fitzgerald speech footage, the repetition of the simple phrase (WE PLAY FOR NORTH-WESTERN!), throwback clips from Northwestern football history, and slow, closeup shots of players checked off all the requirements for a great hype video.
Since then, I’ve paid close attention to the final minutes before the team runs out onto the field, and I’m dedicating this “In Praise Of…” column to the hype video, an underappreciated part of the game day experience. In my hype video studies, I’ve identified a reliable formula for how to make the kind of hype video that sets the mood perfectly for an NFL game:
• Dramatic music
• Back lit, slow and closeup shots of key players
• Serious voiceover narration
• A suspenseful buildup to a run of loud, clashing, high-energy highlight clips
• At least one catchy phrase or team motto repeated multiple times
My favorite pregame hype video from this past NFL season came from the Vikings. Their 2018 winter-themed entrance video is a brilliant masterclass. Flaming swords! Torches! Players punching through walls of ice! A scary looking forest! A slightly British sounding narrator!
The deep sound of the Viking gjallarhorn repeats itself throughout the video, which is an especially dramatic touch because the gjallarhorn happens to sound exactly like the long, low groan of ice shifting. The narrator sounds like he could be straight out of Game of Thrones. When you type out his script, it doesn’t make much sense, but the way he reads it is so intense that it doesn’t matter what he’s actually saying. And somehow, he makes you excited for winter, which I didn’t think was possible.
“This is the North, the land of the ice and snow,” he says. “In these halls of ice, our warriors wait in the shadows, ready to be unleashed. We will defend the North!”
At that cue, the players encased in the ice fortress break out, some slashing through the walls with fiery swords, others punching their way out. If that doesn’t get you excited for some football, then you’re probably dead. The Vikings went above and beyond because the themes of fire and ice actually became real. Seconds after the video ends with a fiery Vikings logo, a huge ball of fire would shoot out of the Viking ship at U.S. Bank Stadium, and the players would run onto the field from underneath the ship. If you were in the stadium, you could actually feel the heat from the flames on your cheeks. The video really comes alive with the actual flames, good for bonus points in my book.
I’m awarding an honorable mention this season to the creative use of the halo board at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Super Bowl LIII. The halo board is a video screen at the top of the stadium that wraps around in a full circle. For Super Bowl LIII, the video crew kept it simple and played shots, back lit of course, of Rams and Patriots players, one at a time. A new player flashed with each beat of the orchestral music. One shot panned across a closeup of Todd Gurley’s face, his eyes peeking out in between his braids. Another filmed Rob Gronkowski from a low perspective, looking up at him like he was a statue in a museum. The next shot showed Aaron Donald’s profile. On the beat, he turned and looked straight into the camera without blinking.
Even individual players recognize the importance of a good hype video. Tom Brady put out this one on his Instagram before the AFC championship game, and this one before the Super Bowl. Neither script makes much sense, but who cares! It’s Brady, and Zdeno Chara, and legend David Ortiz and Paul Pierce talking about winning!
Sure, hype videos are a little bit corny and overwrought, but the game day experience would not be the same without this artificial and heavily-edited ritual.
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