Long, scripted, single-take drone videos are becoming must-have shots for high-end productions, and HBO’s series Hard Knocks has shared the latest: an impressive tour of the Dallas Cowboys NFL team’s massive facility.
Hard Knocks is HBO’s reality sports documentary television series produced by NFL Films and HBO. The show has been running since 2001. Each season follows a National Football League (NFL) team through its training camp and covers how the team is preparing for the upcoming season. This season’s focus is the Dallas Cowboys.
As part of the production, HBO and NFL Films produced a long, single-take first-person-view drone video that flies over, across, and through the massive complex in Frisco, Texas. It is a 91-acre campus with everything from the 12,000-seat indoor stadium to a boutique shopping center and luxury hotel.
While it might not be the longest such video that has been produced, it might be the most impressive due to the combination of its length and the detail of the production. Earlier this year, Manchester City’s soccer club produced a slightly longer single-take video to celebrate the team’s Premier League title, but it is devoid of any people or action other than the motion of the drone.
HBO takes things to the next level by nearly matching the length but also scripting a large number of actors to add more dynamism and interest to its shots. The result is a video that is much more engaging for the average viewer to watch. The complexity of the shoot matches the quality of what Jay Christensen of the Minnesota-based Rally Studios, who arguably pioneered this style of video, produced in his bowling alley and the Mall of America videos.
The drone flies into the entryway of the facility, over and through the stadium, and through numerous rooms in the massive complex that showcases the sheer magnitude of the Cowboy’s program.
While the finished product appears to be a single take, there are a few moments in the video that appear to be digitally altered in some way, but regardless, the video is no less visually spectacular. Clearly, the trend that Christiansen started earlier this year has caught on, and any production that needs to show a vast, sprawling, intricate space now calls for the first-person drone view he pioneered.