The world’s largest rodeo is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and this year VISION Production Group helped the historical brand step to the forefront in real-time 3D motion graphics with the same system used by the Super Bowl. VISION’s work also included a new state-of-the-art broadcast graphics package, a completely new in-stadium graphics package and an opening video.
VISION’s work earned top honors from the American Marketing Association, winning the 2015 Crystal Award for Best Live Event Promotion. Click here to see a video of the complete package.
A tradition since 1932, the iconic event had over 2.4 million fans in attendance over the 20-day long extravaganza, which makes it the largest rodeo and one of the world’s largest sporting events. Not only did this year’s fans in attendance get to see the new packages, millions of viewers on Fox Sports 1 and FoxSportsSouthwest.com live web stream were entertained as well.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (RodeoHouston) made a multi-million dollar investment into the new state-of-the-art Ross XPression real-time 3D motion graphics platform to work inside the NRG stadium, home of the Houston Texans and one of the largest screens in the world.
The rodeo also employs a massive 16-sided center-hung LED display which hangs down from the roof of the stadium and creates an excellent view of the action. It uses:
- 8 main screens - 29’ x 16'
- 8 filler screens - 8’ x 16'
- 8 header screens - 40’ x 4'
- 1 90' diameter x 4'(h) round footer screen
Updated scores of the rodeo contestants, videos and other animations also had to be coordinated with the 277 foot large Mitsubishi Electric Diamond screens on each end of the stadium and the 360 boards and plasmas located throughout the NRG park.
James Davidson, Managing Director of audiovisual presentations and broadcasts for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, said, “When it came time to reinvent our broadcast graphics look, we spent two years researching the best hardware that was capable of real-time rendering and play-out of 3D content.”
“It was equally important to choose the right team to create the 3D content. The selection process involved firms from across the country. As the process evolved, it became clear that the team at VISION Production Group was the obvious choice. They had everything we needed; the right people, the right tools, and most importantly, the creative vision we were looking for.”
Tracey Shappro, VISION’s CEO knew her team was up to the challenge. “We thrive in situations like this. The challenge for VISION was to give the HLSR a fresh, clean and progressive look to compliment their brand and work seamlessly with the new technology. We wanted to give RodeoHouston a motion graphics package that not only surpassed the technological requirements, but also appealed to hard-core rodeo fans as well as a general sports audience and music fans.”
Davidson added, “As the project neared completion, the VISION team actually moved to our facility and worked with our integrators to get the “look” up and running, and stayed until everything was working as planned.”
A lot of the work fell to VISION’s motion graphics team, led by creative director Dan Pratt. Dan and his team worked for months to create national level graphics, videos and animations to elevate the Rodeo look to fit alongside the likes of ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
“When you prepare animation and graphics for a system that provides real-time results within a 3D environment and updates minute-by-minute, it takes a special combination of creativity and technology,” Dan said.
For example, Dan and his team used Maxon Cinema 4D and After Effects Compositing to design and build the package, then elements were rebuilt using XPression Real Time 3D Software. VISION had to create models and import them into the Ross XPression system. Then each model had to be retextured along with compositing the scenes.
Creative messaging for this project was a careful balancing act; merging modern, urban and industrial design with the traditional country image of the rodeo. The two had to be brought seamlessly together to meet the objective of elevating the event to bring in new audiences while still staying true to the die-hard rodeo fans. The final product had to instill a belief in audiences that the rodeo is edgy, adding a new cool to this sport that takes place primarily on dirt.
One of the draws of RodeoHouston’s nightly 70,000 fans is the music concert that follows each night of hard-core rodeo. Performers like George Straight, Beyonce, Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi and Johnny Cash have appeared on stage. It was fitting that RodeoHouston wanted an opening video that would play live each night of the rodeo to set the tone of the exciting rodeo action to follow.
Ultimately, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo wanted to be innovative; they wanted their event to be recognized as a national event, not regional or local. The video also played on Fox Sports as part of their broadcast of the 20-day event and streamed live on the web. With high expectations for continued record-breaking attendance, financial goals and continued brand appeal, the video had to make a big impression with millions.
RodeoHouston chose to create an original custom song for this purpose, wanting it to become a theme song for RodeoHouston in a similar manner that Hank Williams’ catchy tune “Are You Ready for Some Football” did for the ESPN’s Monday Night Football television broadcast.
Country music recording star, and Houston native, George Ducas was hand-selected by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to write, record and produce their exclusive theme song. After several creative sessions for theme development and lyric messaging, Ducas penned “Party With Your Boots On,” and the rodeo did just that.
VISION then incorporated the theme song, “Party With Your Boots On”, into a state-of-the-art opening video to help kick off each rodeo performance inside NRG Stadium and broadcast on FOX Sports during its regular rodeo broadcast schedule. Ducas also appeared in the opening video that featured full 4K video, HD motion graphics and rodeo highlights.
The creative was also built with the real time 3D motion graphics capabilities of the Ross XPression system front and center. This kind of technical system put the HLSR in the same league as the Super Bowl and the Olympics in terms of graphics presentation. The sharp edges and perspective drawing included in the design maximized this state of the art real time 3D system, something that was key in HLSR objectives; they spent the money, they wanted to see impact. Graphics execution and content messaging had to align with RodeoHouston’s vision to work.
Attendance results for RodeoHouston are staggering. Total attendance at the live event was 2,483,193, and a single day record for attendance was set with 181,822.
Davidson said, “The project was a home run. We received rave reviews across the board on our new look.”
The graphics package design is now being implemented into next year’s marketing efforts and leveraged for additional marketing needs. Estimated attendance at next year’s Rodeo is a record breaking 2,800,000.
For more information on VISION Production Group, visit visionproductiongroup.com.