L.A.-based production company Iron Claw recently delivered a powerful opening sequence for EA Sports‘ video game “Madden NFL 13” featuring Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. In the two-minute piece, Lewis sits in a dark locker room sharing his battle-tested insights into what it takes to be the best, and to build a legacy in the NFL.
“The crew at Iron Claw was instrumental in this project,” said Jean Adams, EA Sports’ “Madden NFL 13” creative director. “They captured the emotion of the NFL and created a piece that describes our product better than words could convey. The community loves this piece and describes it as the best intro in sports games. They get chills every time they see it and for the first time.”
“As a video game brand, Madden represents the best NFL interactive experience,” said Jeremy Wabiszczewicz, Iron Claw art director, who directed the live-action opening sequence. “It has a mass dedicated following. Our challenge to engage the player in an unexpected way from the moment the game boots up for the first time. This sequence was all about legacy. Ray Lewis has a tremendous ability to motivate people, and gives off this indefinable savage energy. I wanted to exploit that visually.”
The opener for “Madden NFL 13” differs from the more traditional motion graphics piece for “Madden NFL 12,” which Iron Claw also created. This time around, the client gave Iron Claw a canvas to create a true narrative. Wabiszczewicz explained that the user has a more personal role in the game, developing teams and players, and connecting to friends and others through the hub of the game experience.
“EA wanted to focus on Lewis and his career along with some key additions to the Madden game itself,” said Wabiszczewicz. “They were implementing the Infinity Engine, which inserts physics into the game for more organic movements of the football players. This more or less changes the core feel of the game, and the in-depth depth career mode is like a role-playing game for Madden players. It was up to us to create a piece that encompassed these elements, and build a story out of it.”
Iron Claw produced the shoot in Los Angeles, using the RED Epic camera. The team jumped immediately into post, augmenting the live-action shots with CG using Maya and composited with After Effects.
“Ray Lewis played a big part, beyond just being the feature of the piece,” said Wabiszczewicz. “He’s clearly a creatively-minded guy and understanding of the process of a visual effects-heavy piece. It was great to collaborate with Jean Adams, Anthony Stevenson and [postproduction director] Steve Brooks. The kernel and vision started with these guys, and we just took the ball and ran with it. EA has been a fantastic client through the years and offers a lot of creative latitude. The gaming industry has really created a new landscape for the visual narrative.”