Kelly Rowland

50 Cent, Perry Farrell + Kelly Rowland kick off the ABC Pontiac Garage Saturday Night Football opener

Together Once Again!

It‘s time to “Celebrate” the start of a new college football season, and New York City-based Vidiots and Tampa‘s HABANA Avenue are back, collaborating once again on the high-impact, music-driven primetime opener for ABC/ESPN College Football.

Shot in HD on the Pontiac Garage Stage high above Times Square, the dynamic opening features 50 Cent, Perry Farrell‘s Satellite Party, and Kelly Rowland covering Rare Earth‘s “Celebrate” rewritten with custom lyrics. Vidiots and HABANA Avenue created last year‘s pair of musical opens for ABC/ESPN College Football which showcased the indie-rock outfit Ok Go and Robert Randolph & The Family Band, and were commissioned again to put on an amazing opener to this year's College Football season.

Michael Amoia, cofounder of Vidiots, reprised his role as director and editor of “Celebrate” with HABANA's President and Founder Steven Levy acting as executive producer of HABANA Avenue, and Val Fischler again serving as supervising producer for ABC/ESPN Sports. They met the challenge of shooting at the Pontiac Garage Stage last year so Amoia and Levy were well prepared for the logistic and technical complexities of a four-camera HD shoot, at night, and on the world‘s most exciting and iconic stage in arguably the city‘s busiest location.

One Step Further Than Last Time!

“Thanks to the response to last year‘s program opener ABC/ESPN Sports was able to land this year‘s big talent,” said Levy. David Saltz, executive producer for musical entertainment at ABC and band liaison, lined up 50 Cent and Farrell with help from Chris Hornberger, advertising manager for the Pontiac-GMC division. When Bob Toms, executive producer for ABC/ESPN Sports, and Val Fischler were looking for a female singer to round out the trio, Saltz learned — via Beyonce‘s father, Matthew Knowles — that Rowland was eager to participate. With the powerhouse trio formed, Amoia and Levy had to deal with the issue of New York City being "concerned about the attention we would naturally attract working with 50 Cent, Perry and Kelly,” said Levy.

Left to Right:  Perry Farrell, Kelly Rowland, 50 Cent

Left to Right: Perry Farrell, Kelly Rowland, 50 Cent

Despite The Limitations We Still Put On A Great Show

Since the last shoot the city had also instituted new restrictions on pyro for non-New Year‘s Eve events in Times Square. “No confetti cannons were allowed and pyro had to be really scaled down,” Levy reported. “Fortunately, Phil Grucci, of the famed Grucci fireworks family, was able to package all the pyro effects without any of the concussions so we were able to work through the night without disturbing hotel guests. But we still attracted quite a crowd!”

Amoia envisioned a set for the opener featuring an LED wall behind the band which displayed different color patterns reinforcing the theme of an “energy collaboration” among the performers. Amoia and DP Marc Bloomgarden deployed four Panasonic VariCam HD cameras for the shoot: Two were handheld, one was on a 15-foot Techno Crane and one — with an 86:1 lens — was located across Times Square.

The opening begins with a wide shot of the Pontiac Garage Stage then zooms in on Perry Farrell who is suddenly suffused with a CG blast of red energy emanating from the night sky. As he sings, transparent red ribbons of energy swirling around his head and chest are inter-cut with shots of a football poised for the kick off, helmets, marching bands and mascots. Then Kelly Rowland appears to take up the tune, and Farrell passes along the energy to her. Rowland‘s high heels glow with yellow energy which rises and forms a Figure 8 around her, encircling her as she twirls to the music. More football footage, including shots of action on the field, is intercut with her performance.

Grand Entrance

Finally, 50 Cent makes a dramatic entrance through a pyro rain curtain. Rowland passes waves of blue energy to him. They follows his hand gestures as more football images are interwoven with his rap. Suddenly, 50 Cent is sitting atop a giant LED screen, legs dangling. Then he‘s glimpsed standing on another LED screen, dwarfed by the huge displays above and below him. More pyro explodes from the corners of the stage and across the stage. The opener ends with all three artists celebrating together, each encircled by a colored ribbon of energy.

“We had only one night to shoot the artists performing separately then all together,” said Amoia. “We had to schedule and time our shoots with them; we couldn‘t have everyone on stage for the whole night to get all the coverage we needed. We scrambled to make sure we got the shots we needed and to make sure everyone was moving and alive.”

Levy poined out that “we originally planned a 12-second pyro curtain followed by smoke with 50 Cent walking through the smoke. But he told us he had walked through pyro a lot, and he felt it would look cooler if he appeared through the fire. So he did, and it looked absolutely amazing.”

Left to Right:  Michael Amoia, 50 Cent, Steven J. Levy

Left to Right: Michael Amoia, 50 Cent, Steven J. Levy

The next day Amoia regrouped with 50 Cent at Silvercup East where he shot the rapper against greenscreen to simulate his precarious perch on the giant screens above the Pontiac Garage Stage. “The greenscreen shoot went very quickly,” Levy recalled. “That speaks to Mike‘s and Marc‘s preparation. They were ready to roll when 50 Cent came in, and he nailed it in a matter of a few hours.”

Before the shoot, Amoia and Levy had an opportunity to be part of the track recording session with 50 Cent and Perry Farrell; Rowland performed from Houston over ISDN lines. “It was an incredible experience to be in session with people of that stature, collaborating with them to create a special song,” said Levy.

Amoia did the opener‘s creative cut on Avid Adrenaline and prepped the CG compositing which was performed through Vidiots; the CG energy collaboration was Amoia‘s own concept. He also finished the opener on Adrenaline.

Lynn Elliott and Jackie Kim at Jack Morton Worldwide handled the staging for the shoot; Jeffrey Strauss and Monica Moore at Times Square Entertainment facilitated permitting and introduced Amoia and Levy to Grucci; and Charlie Prideaux smoothed the way with the NYPD. “Without all of them, the shoot wouldn‘t have happened,” Levy declared.

About Vidiots

Vidiots, Inc. combines full-service post-production for film and TV with a boutique environment, is equipped to handle projects large and small from promos to episodic television programming to feature films. For more information visit

Perry Farrell on the set of  ABC Pontiac Garage Saturday Night Football

Perry Farrell on the set of ABC Pontiac Garage Saturday Night Football

50 Cent recording "Celebrate"

50 Cent recording "Celebrate"

David Steinberg – Millimeter Digital Content Producer The Briefing Room