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What goes into shooting a thirty second TV spot? One-hundred eighty hours.

UT’s new TV commercial debuts this Friday with the start of the Volunteer football season on ESPNU during the North Carolina State game.

Created by UT’s Department of Video and Photography, the TV spot can attribute its long hours to the breadth of content weaved together into just a half a minute.

Viewers will notice running themes of orange, talented alumni, the impact of their big ideas, and the impact of UT.

A preview of the spot can be seen below.

“The premise of our spot is our tagline, ‘Big Orange. Big Ideas.,’ so we worked to have orange in most shots from the sunset to Power T flags to the torch,” said Russ Hollingsworth, assistant director in the department and spot lead producer.

Shooting began in March and wrapped last week. The video will run every UT football and basketball game this year to be viewed by a half million to two million people each game.

Hollingsworth explained that they wanted to illustrate how the university is a place where “you can have an idea and the university allows you to turn it into something big. We wanted to show ideas that are relevant to people in Tennessee and everywhere.”

For example, Min Kao, a graduate in electrical engineering, went on to co-found Garmin. Mark Dean, also a graduate in electrical engineering, went on to co-invent the personal computer.

Orange imagery is threaded throughout the video. Attentive viewers may notice Dean’s interview is set in front of thirty personal computers with glowing orange screens displaying the Torchbearer statue at sunset.

Mark Dean

Shooting was not for the faint of heart. To show the impact of GPS technology on our lives, particularly in East Tennessee, the Department of Video and Photography crew departed UT at 5:00 one July morning for Black Mountain Overlook. The goal was to get a sweeping view of the plateau displaying a handheld Garmin. To do this, they needed an 18-foot jib, or projecting arm crane with a camera attached. To get it up the mountain, they had to hike a quarter of a mile with the equipment before sunrise. They got the shot.

“We wanted to show Tennessee’s beautiful scenery and the technology that a UT graduate developed,” said Hollingsworth. “We used a jib to get the aerial view with some movement to make the shot more interesting to the viewer.”

The second to last line of the video reads, “Orange is simply a color, but Big Orange is a way of life.” It then flashes the faces of five impactful Volunteers from a multitude of backgrounds who have positively influenced the world in a variety of ways. These Vols include Pat Summitt, Howard Baker, Nancy-Ann DeParle, Clarence Brown, and Randy Bresnik.

“I think this spot is the most varied production and cross-cutting we have done in a long time,” said Hollingsworth. “We hope it is memorable.”

Peyton Manning

Featured Volunteers include:

  • Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos quarterback and philanthropist
  • Mark Dean, lead inventor of the original personal computer and chief technology officer for IBM Middle East and Africa
  • Min Kao, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Garmin International Ltd.
  • Pat Summitt, head coach emeritus of the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team and all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history
  • Howard Baker, former senate majority leader, White House chief of staff, and ambassador to Japan
  • Nancy-Ann DeParle, deputy chief of staff for policy in the Obama Administration
  • Clarence Brown, American film director
  • Randy Bresnik, NASA astronaut and colonel in the United States Marine Corps

The Vols’ game will be aired on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m. on August 31.