What’s it like to play basketball at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden? That’s the concept behind a new 6-spot promo campaign for Big 10 Network’s Men’s Basketball Tournament, happening at the famed New York City arena, featuring animation from Calabash.

The project for Big 10 Network is just the latest sports-related project for the award-winning animation studio that won a 2017 Sports Clio for their work on a series of 19 branded content shorts for the US Women’s Soccer Team.

“Animation can be very effective way for sports teams to communicate and entertain their fan base,” Sean Henry, Calabash’s Executive Producer says. “Calabash is especially well-equipped to do this type of work because we can handle both smaller, quick turnaround projects, as well as more elaborately animated and designed productions. Sports are inherently dynamic and exciting, but animation is also a great medium to tell the athletes’ stories and for fans to catch a rare glimpse at their personalities “off the court”.  With such a solid, built-in audience hungry for original content, we see the pro and college sports market as a huge potential growth area for our talents.”

The six-spots (ranging from :22 to :25 seconds) follow the same format – opening with a live action of shot of one of the Big Ten athletes or coaches talking about their excitement about playing at the Garden and what they’re most looking forward to, which then transitions into an animated sequence that brings their story to life.

For Wayne Brejcha, Calabash’s Creative Director, the animation look used on this project represents an evolution of sports-themed work they’ve done other over the last several years.

“This animation is executed in a fairly minimal comic style, emphasizing the lightly stylized portrayals of the narrators, the supporting figures in the stories and the places that are spotlighted by the narratives,” Brejcha notes. “BTN wanted to feature the athletes and coaches as live action, and segue into some visual storytelling to augment their descriptions and help pull the audience into their world.”

Henry adds that the challenge for this project to find a way to make each of these spots stand out as distinct despite the fact that everyone featured shared the same level of excitement and enthusiasm about playing at the famed sports arena that’s home to some of sports’ greatest moments.

“We had to avoid being repetitive, which meant learning a little more about individual players and coaches and bringing some nuance to each spot. We didn’t want to animate every word out of their mouths, so we looked to find a balance in the visuals to convey the emotion of playing at this place, while not being overly literal or obsessive about caricatures and likenesses. That left us more time to put our energies into the tone and keeping it light, fun and whimsical.”

About Calabash
Led by Creative Director Wayne Brejcha and Executive Producer Sean Henry, Calabash is the Chicago, IL-based animation production studio known for its award-winning animation for the advertising and entertainment industries. Calabash Animation is perhaps best known for their creative character animation and development of some of America’s most beloved brand icons. In addition to it advertising working, the company has also produced several acclaimed short films, including ‘’Stubble Trouble,’’ which was nominated for an Academy Award.