Northeastern University Goes Behind-the-Scenes with Huskies Unleashed
Colleges and universities from around the country are proving that you don’t need an HBO Sports-level budget to produce compelling Hard Knocks-style content that provides the fans with a behind-the-scenes look at their teams. At the forefront of this effort is Northeastern University in Boston, which is in the midst of producing an ambitious four-part Web series centered on the school’s women’s soccer team, dubbed Huskies Unleashed.
“We’ve been following the players and coaches throughout their preseason procedures,” says Imry Halevi, video production manager for Northeastern Athletics. “We try to go wherever they go – not just a practice or a team meeting, but off-the-field things that let our fans see a different side of the players and the coaches.”
Huskies Unleashed – Women’s Soccer – Week 1
Huskies Unleashed – Women’s Soccer – Week 2
Unleashed is Uninhibited
Each Thursday, from Aug. 11 through Sept. 1, NU Athletics posts a 10-minute episode on the department’s Facebook page and the women’s soccer Facebook page. Episodes are posted on the department’s Website, GoNU.com, each Friday.
The series features intimate footage of practices, physical training, team trips (such as night out at a Boston Breakers Women’s Professional Soccer game), and one-on-one interviews with players and coaches.
“Before the season started I sat down with coach [Tracy Leone] and talked to her about what we wanted to do and she was very excited about it,” says Halevi. “We told her that we didn’t want to be off in the corner the whole time. We wanted to be right in there with the team. So whenever the team has huddles or quick team meetings on or off the field, we are right there with them.”
Small Staff, Smart Workflow
Halevi and his staff of two co-op workers (NU’s cooperative education program allows students to alternate semesters of academic study with semesters of full-time employment in positions related to their major) use two JVC GY-HM100 handheld camcorders to capture footage throughout the week. The crew also deploys two Sennheiser EW 112-P G3 wireless microphones on players and coaches during practice and intrasquad scrimmages.
The JVC GY-HM100s record XDCAM EX Quicktime files directly onto SD cards. Halevi & Co. can put the SD cards directly into their Final Cut Pro editing suites and go to work on editing hours of footage into a crisp 10-minute feature.
“I love the [workflow] because I can just put the SD cards in my Mac, put it in Final Cut Pro, and I’m done,” says Halevi. “We don’t have to log and capture, log and transfer, render and wait – nothing. It just makes everything so much easier.”
Courtesy of the College Sports Video Summit
Huskies Unleashed is one of many budget-friendly, behind-the-scenes video projects being created at schools all over the country. Halevi decided to bring the genre to NU’s Huntington Ave. campus after attending a presentation at SVG’s College Sports Video Summit last June in Atlanta, regarding the University of South Carolina’s Gamecock Confidential series.
“[South Carolina] did a whole series about their softball team, following and micing the players and using mostly students,” says Halevi. “I thought it was very cool and interesting so we stayed after the presentation and talked to them. We found out how they worked and what they would recommend. They were very helpful and gave us some great tips.”
Back for Round Two?
As of now, there are no official plans for the next incarnation of Huskies Unleashed, but a second chapter of some fashion is most definitely on the horizon. Much like the town it calls home, Northeastern has long been a hockey school, first and foremost, which begs the question: Will a trip to the ice be next for Huskies Unleashed?
“We want to see how this one goes – both in terms of the fan response and our time and resource commitment – but we definitely want to do this more,” he says. “We have a new hockey coach and everyone is excited about him so we definitely want to explore the possibility of doing this for hockey as well as other sports.”