Internally, it’s referred to as the ‘hype video,’ aimed to get the crowd fired up before player introductions. The reality of it is, the 2-minute, 30-second video is meticulously created to salute to the towns, cities and people of Oklahoma.
It doesn’t matter if the world has gone mad
If we just hold on, if we just hold on yeah
The sky is falling and the world has gone mad
And we sing our songs, and we just hold on yeah
So if you’re running, stop running
One life, one chance, start living
Sing it louder just to let the world know
No, we’re not nameless, we’re not faceless
We were born for greatness
—"Born for Greatness" by Papa Roach
If the words above sound familiar, one of two scenarios is likely in play: You’re a big Papa Roach fan or, probably more so, you’re among the 18,203 who have routinely filled up Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thunder game nights this season.
OK, a few of you will answer “both.”
But for the vast majority, the video that supports the blood-pumping, head-nodding lyrics that scream out through the arena’s sound system signals one thing: Tipoff is imminent.
“It’s a pretty powerful feeling to look out at the crowd and see their reaction when that video starts playing. That feeling never gets old,” says Bill Hooker, producer of media production for the Thunder. “That reaction is what we all aim for, but you never know how the crowd is going to react until they see it.”
Motion Graphics animator/editor KJ Campbell checks his framing on location in Yukon.
A SALUTE TO OKLAHOMA
Inside the Thunder walls, it is called the “hype video,” a carefully discussed, meticulously planned sensory treat created by Hooker and his team of five to crank up the home-court environment and just as important, salute the state and citizens of Oklahoma.
The video is a result of six days of purposeful, targeted shooting throughout the state and more than 80 hours of editing.
While the media content has changed over the years, one of the mainstays in the 2-minute, 30-second video is the recognition of the cities and towns throughout the state that are highlighted throughout the piece and spelled out on the 360 degree LED ring in the arena. From “This City” to “Home,” from “Best Day of My Life” to “We Are One,” the secret sauce is collective inclusion, regardless of the title track.
“We want something with an emotional purpose, something that will resonate with all of our fans,” Hooker says.
Motion Graphics animator/editor Davis Pruett, left, and Media Productions producer Bill Hooker discuss the shot checklist for the crew's time in El Reno.
He speaks these words to his team – KJ Campbell, Jase Chilcoat, Davis Pruett and Sharvil Salve -- at the first of what will be many brainstorming sessions. The group is gathering to identify a song from a lengthy list of options as well as potential shots and locations to complement the selected beat. Hooker says the video for Season 11 of Thunder Basketball should be reflective of the city and state: optimistic, reflective and bold.
The creative juices are flowing as the “Born for Greatness” video is played on the large screen in a Thunder conference room. Hooker frequently hits pause to share his vision, briefly describing possible locations and how to incorporate fans and Thunder entertainers throughout the piece. Other team members jump in the lively discussion, building on that vision while suggesting shots, angles and locations specific to words and beats used throughout the song.
Hooker issues a challenge to each member of his team in advance of their next gathering: Bring visual examples of the desired shots to be used. The group assembles a couple of days later, armed with photocopies and printed materials of iconic landmarks that can be placed in an ever-evolving storyboard.
The consensus among the team? This song is it!
The song, vision and rough storyboard is presented to a larger audience that includes Thunder senior vice president Brian Byrnes and others for a deep dive into the details and, ultimately, final sign-off. The song is bold, all agree, but empowering and vastly different from years’ past. The shots in the video can support a continued confidence as Thunder Basketball moves into its second decade.
“This is all about getting the right frame, the right shot, the right angle,” Hooker says. “We’ll be very intentional with our shoots – all corners covered, all fans included.”
The green light to proceed is given.
Video Production manager Jase Chilcoat squeezes in behind the counter at Sid's Diner to film the staff, decked out in Thunder t-shirts, serving up their famous onion burgers.
Chilcoat leans on his teammates to warn him of any oncoming traffic as he zeroes in on his desired shot
IN SEARCH OF THE SHOT
The group loads up one of the Thunder vans with gear – various cameras, tripods, microphones and more; if you can think of it, it’s probably in here – and prepares to head out for a full day of shooting in the heat of September in Oklahoma.
This is one of many re-scheduled days of shooting following an unusually wet and stormy August, only this time the clock is ticking. Thunder media day is less than two weeks away and the season officially tips off in less than a month.
“Weather,” Hooker answers, when asked what is the biggest challenge his team faces. “We’re always looking for that perfect setting to shoot in – the sun, the clouds, that good Oklahoma feel. We had to change plans so many times because of the weather. We need that happy feel of moving clouds, that ‘cool’ feel we all know.”
Bill Hooker points out the shot he wants from Motion Graphics designer and videographer Sharvil Salve.
Hooker outlines the day ahead – the group will start in Yukon and continue on to El Reno, Okarchie, Kingfisher, Cedar Valley and Gutherie. There is no running clock or schedule to keep. The goal for the day is simple: Get the shot at each location!
“Double- and triple-check your focuses today,” Chilcoat says as he looks through his viewfinder and follows his own instructions.
Cameras in the hand, the group disperses in different directions to capture a variety of footage. Some are shooting high, some from afar, some focused on the details and close-ups all while Chilcoat is in the middle of the street, his camera on the hot pavement, trying to get footage that doesn’t include any cars in his frame. This buzz of activity will be repeated at each stop.
The Thunder van rolling into a small town draws attention on its own and only heightens when the crew jumps out and begins capturing the sights, sounds and people within the community.
Soon, Patrick McClung of Spraycan Creative appears from his office on W. Main Street in Yukon, ready to assist in any way he can. Hooker asks McClung if he could help pull together a small group to participate in the shoot. No problem. Within minutes, McClung has a number of people by his side to join him in a spirited display of Thunder love.
"I have had lots of friends and family send me recordings of the video. I'm personally very proud to be a part of it," McClung said. "While I haven't seen the video in person, it looks amazing! It really captures the local aspect I feel the Thunder is going for. 'Your hometown team.'"
Patrick McClung, second from left, rallied up co-workers and friends to join him for a shoot that is featured in the Thunder 'hype video.'
The community’s willingness to help is evident with each stop, from simple to “welcome” messages from residents to suggestions for possible shoots and always a story about what the Thunder means to them.
Or, as was the case at the popular Sid’s Diner in El Reno -- where the staff happily donned Thunder T-shirts and worked feverishly as an already tight work space shrank in size as cameramen zoomed in -- all of the above.
The excitement and enthusiasm displayed in each stop is repeated on subsequent shoots and shines brightly in the final video, perfectly saluting Oklahomans.