U athletics department provides video

The University has created three new web series that give fans inside access.

Gopher sports digital media producer Garrett Wright shoots video at the Minnesota mens basketball game against Indiana at Williams Arena Saturday.

Image by Lisa Persson

Gopher sports digital media producer Garrett Wright shoots video at the Minnesota men’s basketball game against Indiana at Williams Arena Saturday.

by Nate Gotlieb

The Gophers football team had a historic season in 2013, winning eight games for the first time since 2003.

And it had a video series to document its success.

The athletics department produced the new “Brick by Brick” series throughout the football season. It was one of three video series the department produced this year.

 “What we’re trying to deliver to fans and anybody watching, really, is an authentic experience of what the program’s like,” said Chris Werle, associate athletics director for strategic communications.

The series had collectively generated more than 164,000 YouTube views as of Tuesday.

From hockey to football

The idea of creating formal video series came up last year, when the athletics department produced three videos on the Hockey City Classic in Chicago.

Ryan Maus, the new media manager for the athletics department, said fan reaction to the hockey videos was overwhelmingly positive.

“We played them during intermissions at a couple of home games, and people really seemed to enjoy them then,” he said.

Maus and his Gopher Digital Productions crew met with the football team early this summer about doing a video series about the season. He said the recruiting and coaching staffs were on board right away.

“They were huge all season long, helping us get interviews, coming up with story lines, really giving us, a lot of times, unfettered inside access into what they were doing,” he said.

The weekly, 17-episode “Brick by Brick” series chronicled the Gophers’ 8-5 season, which ended with a loss to Syracuse in the Texas Bowl.

“By the end of each episode, you were ready to go play a game right then and there,” former Gophers defensive back Brock Vereen said.

Vereen said his family and friends talked about the videos throughout the season.

“I don’t know if [the digital production team] really realized how big of an impact that those videos had,” he said.

Expanding to basketball, hockey

The Gophers’ digital productions team didn’t stop with football.

This winter, they’ve produced “Raise the Barn,” a series on the men’s basketball team, and “Pride on Ice,” a series on the men’s hockey team. They also produced a video on the women’s hockey team, which came out last week.

The videos, which typically run about six to 12 minutes, combine practice and locker-room footage, interviews and game highlights.

Maus said he, two or three full-time people and an “army of students” work on the videos.

“It’s a group effort,” he said, adding that his staff gets help from team personnel and the athletics department’s communications staff.

Maus’ crew meets with the teams before their seasons to go over story lines. They write an outline before each episode and typically do four to six interviews for each episode.

They use a photo lab in TCF Bank Stadium for the interviews and occasionally “mic up” players and coaches for practices.

“For football, we would try to shoot stuff a week in advance,” Maus said. “[It] didn’t always work out that way, but basketball [is the] same thing. We tried to plan ahead of time and then kind of adjust on the fly.”

Maus said his team compiles hours of footage for each episode and then spends hours editing.

In the editing process, the team focuses on details like setting the proper tone with music and achieving the right cinematic effects.

“We want it to look professional,” Maus said. “We want you to be able to watch it on television, and you would never know that it wasn’t produced by a Big Ten Network or something like that.”

More teams in the future?

The athletics department will release the fifth installment of “Raise the Barn” on Feb. 25. The nine-episode series is scheduled to wrap up April 9.

The three-part “Pride on Ice” series began Jan. 9 and ended Jan. 24.

Werle said the athletics department is considering producing videos on other teams. He left open the possibility of changing up the videos in the future.

“‘Brick by Brick’ may not look like that in two years,” he said. “It may look different because our audience wants to view it differently, or people have found new ways to consume the content.”

For now, though, the viewers, including Gophers athletes, seem satisfied with the product.

“We’ve always been slightly jealous that [other teams] have gotten those videos and stuff,” said Bethany Brausen, a senior captain on the women’s hockey team. “But they did a great job putting together those videos for us.”