Chicago post-production company Utopic condensed the Chicago Cubs’ epic 2016 World Series journey into At Last, a 60-second video for the Chicago Tribune that will play all season long on the giant scoreboard in Wrigley Field.
“It was fun from the start,” says Utopic director of graphics Ryan Gilbert. “We had about a week to put it together, but they gave us a lot of creative freedom.”
Featuring headlines and photographs lifted straight out of the Tribune, the video tells the story of the team’s unforgettable season from opening day to Game Seven. It moves to the soothing melody of Etta James’ At Last, which are the same words that the Trib used to announce the Cubs’ Series triumph in a front page story on the morning after it happened.
“The Etta James tune really drove the pace,” says Gilbert. “It was set from the get-go that that was going to be the driving force.”
The Tribune provided the visuals and the concept for the video. “They knew the photos and articles that they wanted to use, and the headlines from the season were like chapters,” explains Gilbert.
Converting the material into something that would hold the attention of an entire stadium was a little more complicated.
Jill DiBiase, the Utopic creative editor who cut the final piece, double-checked the chronology of the Trib’s material. Then Gilbert and his team converted the images and pdfs from their original 11” x 17”, CMYK tabloid formats into landscape-oriented RGB files that would work within the standard 16:9 video aspect ratio.
Along the way, they made modifications to complement the screen that would ultimately display the video.
“For jumbotrons, you have to factor in more elements,” Gilbert explains. “It’s not so much the size as it is the lighting, the angles and the color. You want to make a pop, so lots of contrast.”
They acknowledged the century-plus struggle it took the Cubs get to the World Series by incorporating the style of vintage print media.
“We used different techniques like overlays, additives and lens flairs to make it look like an old newspaper,” Gilbert says. “We blurred the edges of the frame and added some vignettes and scratched-lens effects to give it an old fashioned look.”
To enhance this nod to the past, Utopic motion graphic designer Dmitry Fedorov conducted what Gilbert describes as “an extensive search for all Cubs’ logos throughout history.”
“Dmitry outlined and animated all of them,” he continues. “I put them in some of the negative space to kind of tie the piece together working from old to new.”
When completed, Utopic’s At Last became a way for Cubs’ fans to experience the thrill of victory all over again. But for Gilbert, it felt like the first time.
“I was at the Adobe Max conference in San Diego when they won the World Series,” he explains. “It was nice to be able to partake in the festivities six months later.”
Client: Chicago Tribune
Director, Sports Marketing: Trevor Gibbons Senior Producer: Brad Tohtz
Editorial And Graphics: Utopic Editor: Jill DiBiase
Assistant Editor: Jen Gaida
EP: Heather Mitchell
Producer: Lauren Gray
Director of Graphics: Ryan Gilbert
Graphics Artist: Andrea Abtahi
Audio Engineer: Brian Leitner