STIR Post Audio, an award-winning, full service audio post and sound design resource with two locations in Chicago, was tapped to create sound design for the Chicago Blackhawks new pre-game 2014-2015 video, “Hit the Ice 2014-2015,” which debuted October 21st at the Blackhawks home, the United Center.

Airing for the entire season, the 1:44 montage showcases the talents of one of STIR’s senior sound designers, Peter Erazmus, who was charged with creating sound design that draws the viewer into the action, heightens the impact of environmental sounds, and finesses the lightning fast transitions that speed by non-stop throughout the film.

“The video had to hype up 22,000 people and raise the level of excitement as the team enters the stadium,” says executive producer/partner in STIR, Mindy Verson, an avid Hawks fan and season ticketholder herself. “That meant producing a complex final mix, balancing the multi-layered environmental SFX Peter created with a driving music track, and standing up to being played over the huge sound system at the United Center.”

The storyboard for “Hit the Ice” takes viewers through the entire day leading up to a home game. From morning right up to game time, shots of Chicagoans from all walks of life—a fireman, a bike messenger, a butcher are shown working hard, going about their daily routines. Interwoven with these scenes is a parallel storyline depicting Blackhawk team members going through their day, prepping for the game—running, lifting weights, putting on their gear and lacing up their skates, and finally, entering the stadium.

“We jump from outdoor shots of fans to the Blackhawks working out in the weight room,” says Michael Gabriele, DP with Daily Planet, who has worked with Erazmus on numerous other projects including Supercuts “Rock the Cut” Campaign. “Finally, at game time, viewers see this diverse cross section of Chicagoans convening at the United Center coming together in their love and support of the Blackhawks and Chicago.”

Weaving the story together seamlessly while still emphasizing each little scenario within the film was part of the sound design challenge presented by Gabriele.

“We needed the sound design to form a cohesive thread and also enhance the viewer experience so they got a little “burst” for each vignette while still being attached to the overarching story,” Gabriele explains. “Peter wove everything together seamlessly; I was really impressed with the transitional elements he used that made everything feel so interconnected even though we were jumping from scene to scene very often.”

Erazmus, a former hockey player himself, brought in his own gear to create authentic foley sounds including scraping his own skate blades on ice and lacing them up. Layering in foley with his sound design added punch to individual scenes, and gave the viewer the “burst” Gabriele was looking for.

“Bringing the viewer in really was paramount,” says Erazmus. “Daily Planet did a great job in picking the music. It was big and powerful, yet still had enough room so I could make an impact with the sound design.”

After achieving a great balance for all the sound design elements in the studio, Erazmus did a sound check at the United Center to ensure that the mix packed punch when played over the huge sound system at the stadium.

“Mixing for an environment the size of the United Center gave me room to really push things and make the sound design elements larger than I would for a broadcast mix. There was more freedom to push levels,” says Erazmus. “After we tested it at the United Center, I went back into the studio to tweak the levels for that environment because on a sound system like they have—and broadcasting to that huge space filled with 22,000 fans—things can get gobbled up.”

“I’ve gotten to see and hear the video and audio track from many vantage points,” says Verson. “Witnessing 22,000 fans reacting in real time to the work that Stir contributed to is so gratifying. I get my personal dream fulfilled every time I’m there in the stadium. It’s an amazing experience! I’m really proud to be a part of creating this wonderful piece that unites Chicagoans and supports our home team!”

In addition to being broadcast over the JumboTron at United Center, “Hit the Ice 2014-2015” plays on the Chicago Blackhawks website.

Production Credits “Hit the Ice 2014-2014”

Production Company: Daily Planet Ltd

Director / Editor: Sara Evans
Executive Producer: Scott Marvel
Director of Photography: Michael Gabriele

Design and Animation: Jonathan Adler. Dan Moore, Dan Tiffany, James Lee, Jason Rohler
Additional SFX: Matthew Hane

Sound Design and Audio Mix: Peter Erazmus, STIR Post Audio 

Audio Post Executive Producer: Mindy Verson, STIR Post Audio

Music: Phantom Power Music

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