Smoke & Mirrors Hits Game-Winner With 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs Campaign

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are heating up as the remaining NHL teams face off for the right to hoist the most famous trophy in all of sports in June. As intense as the current action is, the journey takes on even greater significance when the storied history of the NHL and the epic battles for the Cup are considered. Smoke & Mirrors, working via Y&R, played a key role in a stirring seven-spot campaign spotlighting some of the League’s all-time great players in their legendary moments of glory.

The spots are remarkable replays of these classic moments, portrayed in slow motion and in reverse, rendered so that the on-screen look captures the exact tone and feel of a particular era, and set to dramatic piano music. The New York Rangers’ Mark Messier triumphantly raises the Stanley Cup over his head. Bobby Orr emerges from a pile of fellow Boston Bruins to fly backward through time, scoring a dramatic airborne goal. The Detroit Red Wings’ Steve Yzerman scores a dramatic game-winning goal, a spot that begins in regular speed as the team celebrates and then kicks into slow-motion reverse until he’s poised to take a slap shot. Other spots feature Patrick Roy, Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky and Ray Bourque.

“What a joy to take the best moments in NHL history and be given the chance to help create something this cool,” noted Smoke & Mirrors CCO Sean Broughton. “As spectacular as this footage is in regular replays, the dramatic spots that our team came together to build are mesmerizing. They beautifully portray the game’s incredible history in a compelling way that would capture hockey fans and nonfans alike.”

The historic footage came from multiple formats and cameras and was of varying quality, presenting unique challenges. Smoke & Mirrors found a look to bind the various pieces together, then up-rezed to HD from SD. Some of the film had deteriorated into a state of disrepair, compelling the crew to clean the footage, strip out miscellaneous video tears and film gromits, and then hand the freshly restored footage off to their new Resolve 360 grading suite, where the legendary Ben Eagleton whipped up a beautiful grade that felt authentic and unified the footage.

In the Flame suite, Phil Akka and Brian Benson skillfully time warped the footage to create seamless slowdowns to reverses, creating brand new slow-motion sequences of the historic footage from scratch. To maintain the historic nature of these, Smoke & Mirrors added real film grain and the occasional scratch back in, being constant in nature to one footage source. Once the look and process had been established on one spot, the crew copied it for each film allowing for different quality issues with each piece of archival footage.


Client: NHL
Spots Title: History Will Be Made
Bobby Orr (featured) / Mark Messier (featured) / Steve Yzerman (featured) / Mario Lemieux / Ray Borque / Patrick Roy / Wayne Gretzky
Airdate: March 2010

Agency: Y&R
Chief Creative Officer(s): Ian Reichenthal, Scott Vitrone
Associate CD (s): Cliff Skeete, Bruce Jacobson
Copywriter: Anthony Falvo
Director(s) Content Production: Nathy Aviram , Lora Schulson
EP, Content Production: Alex Gianni
EP, Music Production: Eric Johnson

Editorial: Cosmo Street
Editor: Steve Bell
Producer: Stacey Piculell

Telecine: Smoke & Mirrors NY
Colorist: Ben Eagleton

Post/Effects: Smoke & Mirrors NY
CCO: Sean Broughton
Lead VFX Artist: Philip Akka
Flame: Brian Benson and Sam Caine
Producer: Paul O’Beirne

Audio: Sound Lounge
Mixer: Philip Loeb

About Smoke and Mirrors:

Founded by Creative Director/VFX Artist Sean Broughton (NY) and CTO Mark Widig (UK), Smoke & Mirrors is a New York and London-based design, animation and VFX studio. The recent addition of a powerful grading suite delivers complete solutions for any type of project. A creative and artist-driven company synonymous with vision and originality since its inception, Smoke & Mirrors has consistently succeeded because of its collaborative approach and ability to build lasting creative relationships with directors, producers, agencies and clients alike.

Production in the New York office is led by CCO Sean Broughton, MD Jo Morgan, and Head of Production Sue Romweber. Diverse projects includes the highly challenging Beatles spot for Rockband, as well as spots for LG, Jose Cuervo, and Dove. Recent music video work includes Deadweather's Treat Me Like Your Mother and Michael Jackson's This Is It. Smoke & Mirrors has also been involved with such feature films as James Bond and Harry Potter. Each office is fully networked via complementary systems allowing the companies to share resources, expanding their local capacities. Close involvement with hardware and software manufacturers and developers has kept Smoke & Mirrors at the forefront of innovation and technology.