Grey, NY Brings NFL Football and the Phantom Together

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When Grey, New York landed the NFL account in June it was with a creative strategy based around the importance of even the smallest measurement of time in the game of football. In order to capture these "Moments of Truth" for the 2009 campaign the agency has turned to the Phantom HD camera, which can shoot up to 1000 frames per second, and it looks like the partnership will be creating more than just :30 second spots.

The agency is teaming up with NFL Films and the NFL Network to film games throughout the entire season, creating timely spots as well as a half-hour weekly TV show based around the Phantom footage. Judging by the popularity and prestige of NFL Films, which has been capturing the league on film in some shape or form since 1962, football fans like to see their game at its most dramatic and cinematic. And considering the slowest NFL slow motion has ever been is 120 frames per second, the agency and the league are excited to see what the Phantom can do on game day.

We spoke to Grey, New York's chief creative officer Tor Myhren about the campaign, the impact of the Phantom camera and more.

When in the creative process did you think about involving the Phantom camera?
The strategy was all about these "Moments of Truth" that only happen in a football game and the more we looked at that the more we realized that these moments are happening constantly. So when we started thinking about the execution, we had to think of ways to capture these moments and stretch them into 30 second to one minute spots. We immediately started to toy with the idea of using the Phantom.

When we did the pitch, there wasn't any NFL-quality football footage from a Phantom camera. The slowest NFL Films ever shot was at 120 frames per second, and the Phantom is 1000 frames per second. So it's a lot slower than anything the NFL has ever shot. In the pitch, we tried to find footage that would fit our pitch and we ended up taking footage from the series Planet Earth. We pitched the entire thing, about five spots, using Planet Earth footage in place of football players -- gazelles, zebras and cheetahs in place of running backs and wide receivers. It's amazing how similar the movements can look. It ended up helping to sell the entire campaign.

Of course we had to get footage of an actual player, so we took a Phantom to a team training camp. It's really amazing what full-speed, full contact NFL football looks like through this camera. Even just two lineman working against each other looks fascinating. The first thing we showed them was footage of a guy running the 40 yard dash and it ended up being one of the spots. You're able to see the muscles and athleticism like you've never seen it before.

The referees, coaches and trainers have seen some of this footage and are really interested in seeing where it goes. The refs obviously like it to review plays as closely as possible and trainers like it for injury analysis, while coaches are interested for technique evaluation. Unfortunately, the technology isn't quite there yet to do instant replay, but it's not that far off. Right now, you shoot with these cameras and it's downloading in real time to another hard drive. So, getting that on a network that fast isn't possible yet but it will happen.

You'll be filming games with the Phantom all season. Who will be behind the cameras?
In terms of shooting, no matter who your DP is, they can't shoot football as well as the people at NFL Films. When they do things like pull focus on a tight spiral pass heading straight for the camera, it's amazing. So NFL Films will have three Phantom cameras filming as many games as possible.

Tell us about the show for the NFL Network.
We're talking about doing a weekly show on the NFL Network that revolves around this footage. When their network people saw the footage we had, they said, "That's not an ad, that's a show." So we've started going from there. If you're a football fan, you can watch this stuff for hours. We're not exactly sure what the topics would be, but it could be as simple as the best touchdowns of the previous week, but essentially it's about watching the game in a different way.

If you think about it in terms of showing America's biggest sport in a way no one's ever seen and shooting it every week through the Super Bowl, what you can do with all that content, from an advertising perspective, is pretty extraordinary.

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