Every tech-savvy sports fan knows that following your team on Twitter gives you access to solid stats and shareable gifs. But last season, the Chicago Bulls decided to step it up a notch. The result was a stop-motion video series that is not only the first of its kind, but has racked up millions of views and even won an award from the league.
Last year, they produced 10 videos with longtime sponsor BMO Harris Bank on the now-defunct platform Vine, the social network dedicated to six second looping video clips.
As the #BMOVineaBulls took off, they adapted the videos to post on other platforms – a prescient idea, as Vine was shut down exactly one year after their first stop-motion video was posted – but not before the Bulls won the NBA’s first-ever Team Digital Content of the Year Award for their work.
With Vine no longer in the picture, the videos are now the #BMOLoopaBulls on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and the creative team is free to create clips longer than six seconds. Take this one, of iconic mascot Benny the Bull hopping through the team’s schedule:
Or this video of Benny celebrating Thanksgiving in a way that only he can:
There’s a good chance these videos graced your social feeds, and if you caught one, your first thought (after "Whoa") was likely, "How in the world did they pull this off?"
Earlier this month, they gave NBC 5 an exclusive look behind the scenes of their latest creation, and it turns out that the answer includes tons of hard work and even more patience.
For this particular shoot, four of the Luvabulls dancers performed a highly-choreographed routine while lying flat on the ground. Sound strange? It gets weirder - they did it moving just inches at a time, over the course of several hours, as a drone took photos from above.
As director and editor Travis Rime Brooks explained, each video requires an incredibly labor intensive process that he likened to "animating people":
Filming alone took more than four hours on Wednesday, but that can barely hold a candle to the video of Benny on the calendar, which was a seven hour shoot. That time commitment? Well worth it to the Bulls' digital content manager Luka Dukich.
"The product we get out of these shoots is content that people have never seen before, and people really respond to that," Dukich said. "So even though they're ambitious, very time-consuming, technical, at the end of the day, it's all worth it."
But what about the dancers themselves? You'd think Luvabulls captain Ariana Rosado would be exhausted. Not quite, but she explained just how different this kind of experience is:
So why does the team behind these videos do it? As Dukich explains, it's all for you, if you're part of the second-largest social media following of any sports franchise in North America:
Perhaps just as cool as the project itself is how it came together, and how important Chicago's artistic community is to the success of the series. In its early stages, Dukich was looking for a creative mind to push the envelope, searching on Vine until he found Brooks - a Bulls fan who lives about a mile from the United Center.
The team's latest creation, a stop-motion video of the Luvabulls dancing, was released on Valentine's Day.