HBO recently tapped Miami-based 2C to develop a promo campaign to launch the new season of its popular Hard Knocks franchise. This is the company’s third such collaboration on the series.
2C was asked to run with HBO’s concepts for two spots, one highlighting the faces of those competing for coveted positions on the Atlanta Falcons roster and the other focused on the numbers. The goal was to build anticipation for the new season by capturing and conveying the intensity of the NFL training camp experience and the talent and tenacity it takes to make the cut.
“This year was particularly challenging for the on-air promotional content for Hard Knocks. We didn’t have much time, and we still needed to put together a compelling campaign,” said HBO senior writer/producer Noah Lerner. “Our collaboration with the good people of 2C was essential.”
2C’s Omar Chavez set the tone for “Faces” with his edit and sound design, which uses intense special effects to show how training camp transforms players as they withstand trial and tribulation in their hopes of making the team.
The 55-second spot begins with the clean faces of several players, who become sweatier with a progression that adds grit, smoke and lights to represent their sacrifice before literally transforming the texture of their skin into football leather, complete with lacing.
“HBO gave us two very cool concepts with which to work our magic,” explained 2C senior producer Ben Frank. “Our biggest challenge with ‘Faces’ was making the transformation authentic and believable, walking a fine line between creating football texture and reptile or deadly virus. Each process took several days, but in the end, everything really came together well.”
Using Cinema 4D, 2C essentially created a 3D mesh of the players’ faces and then used that face map to separately create the football texture. Significant effort also went into the color correction of player faces to bring out a sharpness that conveyed every detail of wear and strain as the spot progresses. Sonic Librarian provided the spot’s custom track on which 2C created a musical bed.
“Numbers,” the second spot in the campaign, combines statistical graphics and real training camp footage to break down the level of competition – starting with the fact that more than a million high schoolers begin the quest for football fame, and culminating in the reality that only 53 players will make the Atlanta Falcons team after training camp. To add intensity and modernize the playbook style of the numbers, 2C gave the graphics opacity so viewers could still see action in the background. Intense footage provided by NFL Films and HBO was then injected into the 45-second spot, along with a powerful soundtrack.