The mission behind Ohio State's popular, behind-the-scenes football videos
As Ohio State University football players adjust to the rigors of big-time collegiate sports, they must adapt to camera crews following their every move. Yes, many of those cameras belong to the journalists, broadcasters and other traditional sports media types. But visual communicators of a new breed also point their lenses at the players.
Ohio State's creative media team, led by director Zach Swartz, is in charge of turning everyday practice film into “hype videos” that take the form of rousing motivational reels, alluring recruiting tapes and popular fan content that racks up millions of views online.
A team of several people is constantly recording practice sessions. Some record video for social media platforms like Snapchat, while several others—including Swartz—use higher-end cameras to capture massive amounts of raw footage that will be edited back together for larger productions.
Swartz says the goal is to keep the clips “as real as possible.” Ultimately, their purpose is for recruiting, showing nervous high-schoolers that practice “isn't going to be easy all the time.” But that doesn't mean it's all yelling and sweating.
Of course, the archives of footage come with “language and certain things” not meant for public consumption, and Swartz and his staff also have fun laughing at the lighter moments of practice, which they try to mix in.
And because not everyone at OSU can be a Heisman Trophy candidate, it's important for the team to evenly distribute footage around the roster. “You don't want to just shoot the stars,” Swartz says. “You want to shoot the grinders and the walk-ons and anybody who may need some motivation.”
Perhaps the most crucial part of the process is coach Urban Meyer's approval. The coach allows Swartz's team to use their own judgement, meaning they have the freedom to capture organic, authentic moments that give the videos an earnest feel.
Without that trust, the videos would be just another highlight reel. “[Meyer] trusts us to know what to shoot, what should be put out there and maybe what should just remain a motivational thing for the team,” Swartz says.