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  • Chris Salters

Lead On 150 | TCU Case Study

For over 150 years, TCU has been creating the next generation of leaders. Still, they turned to an Aggie with Hollywood editing experience to help churn out a new chest-beating anthem video… I joke, but my background with TCU actually runs pretty deep. After not only directing TCU Athletics’ Video Department, but starting it from scratch, the honor of creating such an important film for the university was not lost on me. The cause marketing team at BVK, who ultimately tapped me as the soup-to-nuts post-production solution, also realized the impact this video could have on an audience. That's why they pulled in Nametag Films to create the beautiful visuals found throughout the campaign.

Back to the Future

Collegiate spots tend to be fun edits in general, like ‘Say Hello’ for Dallas College. Brand films or anthem videos take that feeling to another level. Truth be told, this wasn’t my only foray into anthem video territory for TCU. 2019 provided my original opportunity to build out a branded campaign for them, again paired alongside BVK and Nametag Films.

TCU | Lead On - 2019 Online Spot

The gravelly and often-used (over-used?) Texanized tone of the film was no doubt a stirring watch, but for this new iteration in 2022, the Fort Worth-based school was looking for something different.

TCU | Lead On 150 - 2022 Online Spot

We needed to show the diversity and outstanding character that this elite institution stands for, while also keeping in mind the 30-second version of the spot would be broadcast on national networks during the college football season, including during the 2023 CFP National Championship. In short, it had to pack a punch.

Post-Production Ponderings

tcu brand film case study - davinci resolve project windows and timeline
DaVinci Resolve - Edit Page

Knowing that I would shepherd this project from rough cuts through color to final delivery, I dusted off my post-supervisor hat and chose to simplify the post-production workflow by editing in DaVinci Resolve, rather than my usual NLE goto, Premiere Pro. Resolve’s use of my edit system’s resources churned through the 6K footage like butter. That left a lot of latitude to incorporate BorisFX Continuum effects and Mocha Pro stabilization as needed to enhance the edit.

tcu brand film case study - davinci resolve color page
DaVinci Resolve - Color Page

That said, the real timesaver came throughout the editing process. Thanks to DaVinci's robust toolbox, I was able to color grade between multiple rounds of editing and client feedback. This ability to easily switch from non-linear editing to cinema-worthy color grading in the same application is always a mind-boggling exercise and only scratches the surface of what makes DaVinci Resolve the post-production swiss army knife that it is.

tcu brand film case study - davinci resolve fairlight page
DaVinci Resolve - Fairlight Page

After settling with the agency and the client on a banging track from MusicBed, sound design was a top priority for me. Resolve’s integrated DAW, aka Fairlight, made sweetening audio a breeze for the review cuts sent to TCU. Once the picture was locked, audio AAFs and offline references were shared with the guys at Dallas Audio Post for a proper online and broadcast mix.

A Gradated Challenge

The spot's end card has a cool gradient effect with the Lead On lockup and TCU's 150th-anniversary logo that was originally designed for the updated campaign's new syle. This static look would be seen across billboards, websites, banners, and other imagery.

tcu brand film case study - lead on 150 campaign concept art
Lead On Campaign Concept Art, courtesy of BVK

The creative team at BVK thought it'd be nice to incorporate that look into the anthem's campaign too, which required some experimentation. Sure, this was an easy enough feat in Photoshop, but remember, we're working with video here. Varying brightnesses, color, and motion caused the effect to lose its impact once moving picture was involved.

tcu brand film case study - applying concept art gradient to video using davinci resolve
DaVinci Resolve End Card Compositing

So using stacked blend modes, varying layer opacities, and a modified version of the gradient, I managed to achieve a visually similar look to the static version. The whole effect was then animated onscreen using a combination of track mattes, offset ink dissolves, and speed ramps. The cherry on top was a slight touch of shape animation, built in After Effects, to bring the 'Lead On' logo lockup onscreen.

Delivering on Deliverables

When it came time to deliver, I decided to lean back into Premiere Pro because the Adobe editor tends to handle resizes for social media in a much easier manner than DaVinci. After rendering out DNxHD 444 versions of the color-graded and mixed edits, I plugged them into Premiere, added slates, and revved up the resizing engine.

tcu brand film case study - resizing deliverables from davinci resolve in premiere pro
Premiere Pro Social Media Resizes

Using Premiere’s scene edit detection, the finished edits were quickly split back into individual clips that could then be moved as needed to make square (1:1) and vertical (9:16) edits from the 16:9 source material. Both Adobe and Blackmagic have AI-ways of automating these edits. In my experience though, the results vary. This hands-on approach gives a more consistent result at only the slight expense of a little extra time.

tcu brand film case study - social media resizes
Social media resizes

In the end, between HD and SD broadcast 30s, slated and non-slated versions, online 60s, 30s, and 15s, plus resizes for social media, this campaign had 21 deliverables. Not a mountain of media, but enough to dictate good file management and folder organization.

tcu brand film case study - finder window delivery folder structure

Broadcast Ready Brand Film

TCU | Lead On 150 - 2022 Broadcast Spot

There’s something special about working on brand films for collegiate campaigns. I’ve felt that way since my modest beginnings as a student producer for Texas A&M University’s 12th Man Productions and my time building a department within TCU Athletics served to only solidify that notion. Sure, it could be my nostalgia for flip cup games and college years long past, but I'd like to think editing these types of spots impact the world just a little bit more than cutting fun ads to sell men’s razors.


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