Calabash Helps Fans Get To Know U.S. Women's Soccer Team
October 25, 2016 by Screenmag
We love to watch them play, but what do we really know about the women on the U.S. National Soccer team, who competed at the Rio Olympics earlier this year? A lot, thanks to 19 online short films featuring animation by Calabash, the creative studio led by Executive Producer Sean Henry and Creative Director Wayne Brejcha.
“We really felt as if we were getting to know the players as we animated their stories,” said Henry. “They are all incredibly focused and accomplished athletes, but they each have unique personalities and great senses of humor. It is easy to see why they are adored by millions of fans.”
Sebastian Podesta, lead editor and cinematographer for the U.S. Soccer Federation, captured and arranged the green-screened live action of each player. From there Calabash set the footage into animated story worlds, in a style crafted for maximum storytelling value while managing costs and racing against tight schedules. The goal: to complete 19 shorts, each over 2 minutes in length, in just a few months.
“Sebastian’s team did a fantastic job with all the players,” Brejcha said, “eliciting these wonderful moments and putting the stories together in a way that gives you both the player’s personality and the dramatic arc or the humor of their tale.”
Sponsored by Ritz crackers, each short captures a specific soccer-related moment in a player’s life. The tales range from the whimsy of Morgan Brian remembering a funny prank that went off the rails to the disarming sweetness of Alyssa Naeher remembering her team winning the world cup as she became an aunt that same day. Others are bit more serious like Hope Solo recalling an alarming and grisly injury during a hard-fought match.
The challenge for Calabash were to create an animation style that would hold the 19 shorts together into one unified look, and also simply to manage the production details of so many shorts at once.
“Producing this many videos in such a short period of time required a very coordinated workflow,” Henry notes. “We had a core group of directors and animators working in-house and a large group of freelancers working out-of-house. We had to develop a management structure to handle the volume of communication across a network of artists working in different locations. The amount of animation meant we had to work quickly, but this actually complimented the whimsical storytelling. It was appropriate that the look of the animation not be overdone, that it have a breeziness and looseness to it.”
Brejcha adds, “The WNT players all seem to be great natural raconteurs. We just lived these stories so intensely while producing them, and they were all marvelous and all loveable in their own way.”