All of the internet has been raving over the latest entrance video for the University of Alaska-Fairbanks hockey team. With Leather was fortunate enough to get in touch with one of its co-creators. Jon Dorfman (not pictured) is a native New Yorker and one of the minds behind HiFi3d, a multi-platform digital media shop. Jon was good enough to answer some of our questions.
WL: You co-directed the entrance video for the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks hockey team. What the hell is a nanook? Is that like a dystopian breakfast nook in the Arctic?
JD: “Nanook” is an Inuit word for the Polar bear, who they consider the “Master of the Bears.” I whole-heartedly agree.
WL: How did you get involved in the production of what’s being called on Twitter “the greatest film our species has ever created”?
JD: I recently co-founded a computer animation studio called HiFi 3D (www.hifi3d.com) with my co-director Szymon Weglarski. We were looking to create a sample project to get the word out, and we came across a craigslist ad for a sequel to the original “UAF Hockey bear”. We both
loved the original intro, and even though the budget and time frame were absurd, we had to take on the project. We contacted Mike Martinez, who created the original and was producing and writing the sequel, and things took off from there.
As soon as we got the job we started brainstorming ways to make it as over-the-top as we possibly could. We tried to take every idea, push it as far as it could go, and then make it explode. It’s really exciting to see people respond so positively to it and point out the little obscure references that we threw in.
WL: You have a freighter that gets sliced in half by a laser hockey stick, a fighter jet nuking a volcano, and apparently some time of time travel. Were there any ideas for this video that were considered “too weird?”
JD: Yes, actually we had a few ideas that didn’t make the final piece, including a mid-air dogfight with attack helicopters, a cameo by an arctic seal, and a few other really wild ideas that I may want to keep under wraps for next time.
WL: How long did this project take to execute, start-to-finish?
JD: We officially started work on it on Oct 8th, 2009 with a deadline of Oct 30th, but my co-director and I were both booked on other jobs, so the entire project was done in spare nights and weekends. We didn’t get much sleep that month.
WL: How big of a hockey fan are you?
JD: I actually don’t watch that much hockey, but my girlfriend is Canadian, so I think that buys me some cred. We did have to do a lot of hockey research, and the shot where the bear skates toward camera and shoots the puck was done by animator, Shayne Ryan who is both a
huge hockey fan and an awesome animator.
WL: You could do an entrance video for any sports team, rock band…name it. Who would you pick and why?
JD: I would have to say the Washington Generals. I’m sick of seeing them lose to those pesky Globetrotters! They just need an awesome intro to get them fired up!
Honestly though, we loved working on this, and if there are any other teams out there that are looking for an intro video, or anyone looking for some high-end computer animation, contact us at hifi3d.com.
Here’s Jon’s professional reel, highlighting some of his other impressive work.