Chicago Wolves Case Study

October 2018

In their 2018-19 season, the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League wanted an exciting new video to kickstart the team’s 25th anniversary. They wanted a product that was unlike anything else out there, creative and high-concept, with a unique cinematic plot to engage viewers, rather than just a showcase of clips that might zone out audiences. Moreover, the video had to recall the team’s championship-winning legacy and their unique prominence in Illinois. The team would play the video before thousands of fans at every home game that season, and use it for digital and social campaigns online.

Crafting a Story that Stands Out From the Crowd

At the 11th hour, the Chicago Wolves’ agency, TimeZoneOne, contacted Cimaglia to not only think up a concept, but produce the entire video within a very short timeframe. With just three weeks to develop and complete it to precise creative specifications (such as showcasing historic flashbacks and unique hockey masks), they needed an agile team that could develop creative, shoot, animate, edit, mix sound design and deliver a complete product on time and within a reasonable budget. Having been familiar with Cimaglia’s work, they knew they could trust the team to develop the entire production turn-key while they focused on other aspects of their new impending season opener.

Our Vision

Cimaglia’s vision had to be rock-solid from the start. Within hours of receiving the assignment, the team rapidly got to work creating a concept pitch—complete with plot, storyboards, and visual references—and delivered it to the client in less than 24 hours. Matthew Cimaglia has personally handpicked and worked with each team member for years, so he knew he could rely on them to snap into action at a moment’s notice. The team’s mutual understanding of style, quality and client expectations—combined with their access to the most cutting-edge technological tools—is what gets this project, like all Cimaglia projects, accomplished quickly and effectively.  

The client immediately signed off on the concept, but wanted to adjust the story according to internal corporate requirements. Cimaglia and his head writer spent hours on the phone with various client contacts, hearing their concerns, smoothly incorporating their ideas and honing the script into an exciting journey for audiences. The result—atmospheric and unexpected, blending CGI with live action to invent a mythical underground world—was unlike any conventional sports-intro video.  

Once they submitted the final storyboards, Cimaglia leapt to work with scores of teams. Without the bureaucratic processes suffered by larger, lagging agencies, Cimaglia’s animators, sound designers, colorists and editors all worked simultaneously to bring the project to fruition. Meticulously composing CGI wolves with nearly 100 million polygons of fur in both live-action video and virtually created environments, the animators recognized that their creations would take more than 320 machine hours to process at an all-GPU render farm (meaning they often wouldn’t see individual scenes until days of rendering had passed, tightening their already ambitious production schedule), forcing them to prepare every object precisely and flawlessly. This required immense trust in the abilities of Cimaglia’s team—trust that was ultimately rewarded.  

Full of energy and intrigue, the finished product ticks every box the client had going in. In it, a lone wolf races from Chicago’s streets to an underground cave guarded by ancient totem-like hockey masks, beckoning more wolves to join the pack while ghostlike replays of the Chicago Wolves’ famous victories screen against the cityscape. Despite some initial unease and uncertainty during the process, the client ended up loving the final product, marking another success to the Cimaglia name.