After a devastating Super Bowl loss with the Rams in 2019, California-native Glenn Connelly hoped, but never expected to get a second chance. But an offseason opportunity took Connelly to Kansas City, granting him his first Super Bowl Championship in his second attempt in as many years.
And Connelly’s camera of choice at both teams has been the same camera that Hollywood has also trusted with its blockbusters – an ARRI.
“While I was with the Rams, we had tried numerous cameras from different manufacturers, but trying to match that footage with the NFL Films footage was always a pain because the NFL Films use the ARRI AMIRA. The AMIRA’s are the industry standard for the NFL, for the most part,’ explains Connelly, Director of Production for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The NFL was an early adopter in moving to ARRI cameras to tell a more cinematic style of storytelling in both its broadcast and its online platforms. A trend that other sports teams and corporate brands have followed to grow their fan base.
“I think that NFL Teams have had an advantage in creating content because we had NFL Films to look at. I think the biggest thing has been with the creation of social media and HD video. At first, it started off with higher quality content for our video boards, and then as social media really took off, that’s where a lot of this content was needed. There was a void, and there was a yearning by the teams and the fans wanting more and more content. The teams started looking at NFL Films and tried to figure out how they could emulate that. In 2011, we were miking up players. We saw the value in that and in having our brand’s voice more specifically targeted. We were able to tailor-make our content for what our fans want.”
And after spending a season renting the AMIRA, Connelly was able to convince the Rams to pull the trigger on a system including two AMIRAs, an ALEXA Mini, and the Master Grips.
“In this department, we shoot mainly in a run and gun style, and we shoot a little bit of everything – long-form content, social media, and sideline sound. I think the biggest thing is how easily we are integrating our footage with the NFL Films footage. Our previous setup wasn’t great for more cinematic productions, and that was one of our goals. The Master Grips also allow us to more easily control the camera focus without having to take the weight or a hand off. It’s better balanced,” says Connelly.
The Master Grips are a pro-camera accessory that combines camera stabilization with responsive fingertip control of the lens and camera with shooting handheld. The Master Grips were essential for camera operators shooting sideline footage, which can often mean standing and shooting for four to six hours at a time.
Upon joining the Chiefs, Connelly would discover that the NFL team had a similar ARRI set up to the Rams. They were equipped with three AMIRAs, and Connelly would soon add an ALEXA Mini to the mix. One of Connelly’s first moves was to develop long-form content similar to NFL Film’s “Hard Knocks” and “All or Nothing,” a behind the scenes documentary-style show.
“A lot of teams saw the shows that the NFL and the NFL Films were producing and thought ‘We can do that and help shape the narrative of our own organization’ because we wanted to show our teams in the best possible light. Last year, we started producing our own long-form content with the Chiefs, called “The Franchise,” says Connelly.
“The Franchise” was both well-timed and well-received. Each 28-minute episode followed the team through the NFL combine and later into the playoffs, with the series garnering close to two million views on YouTube alone in just six months.
With the right gear in place, the Chiefs were able to document the entire year of their Super Bowl-winning season.
“We rented another AMIRA, so we had four AMIRAs and a Mini for the content we produced during the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Having that sort of backbone that the AMIRA provides, the color profile and the look and feel of the footage was able to integrate seamlessly with all of the footage and content that we were able to get through NFL Films – that helped us elevate our game. I think our fans really responded favorably to all of the content that we are producing as well.”