This year the Autumn International series was a huge success for Welsh Rugby. The women’s teams won three out of four matches and the men’s team came away with a perfect 4/4 wins, the first time they have ever done so.
Both on and off the pitch it was a very excited and stressful period for everyone involved. This blog post is about the new challenges and experiences I faced in my role at the WRU.
In Game Media
Working in a stadium, it is inevitable that at some point we would be creating LED animations that were played on the screens that ring the stadium, as well as the big screens at either end. I’ve never worked on anything like an LED loop. The space you are given is just 48 pixels high and at the middle tier of LEDs 29,824 pixels across.
When I started working here I had only a very basic understanding of Animation, but I quickly had to learn. The screens are a vital part of every game and every event the stadium holds in fact. They are the main source of advertising revenue on a match day and they play a huge role in conveying the events of the game.
We play screens to signify penalties, tries, referee decisions as well as running flags of the Nations competing. I have also created adverts for stadium events such as Christmas Tours, Supporters Club events and in Particular the advertisements for the Doddie Weir Foundation, which is a sort in its own right.
Doddie Weir was a special guest at the Wales v Scotland game. He was invited, in part, to promote his charity ‘My Name’5 Doddie Foundation’. The foundation works to raise money for research to cure Motor Neuron Disease. As part of his appearance we had planned to circulate a screen that would advertise the Foundation with his signature tartan and a number that would allow people to donate £5 to the foundation by text.
With no attendance of over 63,000 this was a major opportunity, but at around two hours prior to kick off it was discovered that the Doddie Weir LED was missing and I was asked to build one from scratch in time. Our primary animator was watching the game as a punter and therefore not available. It wasn’t a major job, but I was quite overwhelmed by being given a job with such high stakes as an intern. We couldn’t even proof the work before it went out. I got to see it for the first time when it was used for real.
Another such example was the Wales v Tonga fixture where, again, hours before the game was due to commence. We create branded animations of each member of the starting team to play o the big screens before the players run out onto the field. We discovered one of the players in the starting lineup was given the wrong number. This was another case of me scrabbling around someone else’ desktop in order to find the correct files, create the required amendments to the number and then render and send off the artwork in time for kick off.
One of the most important realisations I’ve had working for such a large company is that things can sometimes come down to there wire. Just because everything looks polished and professional to the crowd, doesn’t mean the build up wasn’t a kind of semi-organised chaos. I’ve learned a great deal about meeting deadline at any cost.
One of my responsibilities was to do a walk around of the stadium prior to the games as well as on the day to ensure the LED loops were all up to standard. Many of them are created and then altered slightly with the information for the next fixture. We had to ensure that they were not only up to date, but had no typos or other flaws.
Another experience that was very stressful but very rewarding, was sitting in the press box on match days and creating live artwork for social media use. I would sit next to a colleague, each of us on laptops, and I would build graphics for posting as the game progressed. This entire process was new to me. We had photographers around the edge of the pitch capturing every they could and then running back to laptops to upload them to our private network, I would then select the best (highlights of the game usually) before cropping them to size for various social media apps and when necessary, adding graphics. We did graphics for kick-off, half time and full time. All of these had to go out in a matter of moments. The picture on the left is a graphic I created at the half time point of the Wales v Tonga game.
The experience I have gained thus far in my internship has been invaluable for me to understand the demands placed upon you when entering the world of professional Graphic Design.