Sean Brennan creative media alumnus super bowl Usher prr-show

A Super Bowl Spectacle… Behind the Scenes

Blending Artistry & Storytelling featuring Sean Brennan (’14)
Bringing the Wow Factor featuring Jeremy Havens (’07)
Animating Brands to Life featuring Connor Stickney (’14)

For football fans, the Super Bowl is the pinnacle sporting event of the year. But the drama on the field is only half the story. Behind the scenes, a massive production crew works tirelessly to create the electrifying in-stadium experience and global broadcast that fans have come to expect. This year’s big game also featured the talents of three creative media (formerly media studies) alumni.

Blending Artistry & Storytelling

Sean Brennan (’14) has carved out a unique niche, blending beautiful imagery with compelling storytelling. As a freelance director of photography in Los Angeles and New York, his projects span the gamut from feature documentaries to branded content, short films to broadcast features.

Sean Brennan creative media alumnus super bowl Usher prr-show

“After a decade, I’ve moved much closer to finding that sweet spot of blending look and story,” Brennan says. “It’s becoming easier to make pretty images, but making images that support and enhance a story takes more thought and artistry. I’m certainly striving for that in my work now.”

Brennan’s artistry was fully displayed during this February’s Super Bowl pregame segment with artist Usher on CBS Sports. He served as cinematographer for a five-minute feature exploring the history of Black entertainment in Las Vegas through the lens of Usher’s career in the city. Working alongside Director Niya Walker, Brennan’s visuals provided the perfect complement to the intimate interview with the iconic performer.

It’s an impressive addition to a portfolio crafted through relentless hard work and a passion for visual storytelling sparked at Loras College. “It’s quite easy for me to find the throughline connecting my time at Loras to where I am in my career today,” Brennan affirms.

In the rapidly evolving media landscape, he credits Loras’ cross-disciplinary education for accelerating his professional development. “Learning hard skills like editing and shooting has made me a more versatile tool on my projects,” he explains. “It’s allowed me to have educated conversations with the other members of a project, which ultimately leads to a better-finished piece.”

Brennan is well-positioned to help shape the emerging narrative. His ability to merge stunning visuals with compelling stories is a masterclass in the art of engaging an audience. By fusing technical expertise with creative passion, he’s ensuring the tales that deserve to be told won’t be forgotten.

Bringing the Wow Factor

At the center of this Super Bowl is Jeremy Havens (’07), director of technical operations for Van Wagner Productions. His company is responsible for executing the in-game presentation elements for eight of the country’s top ten sporting events, including the graphics, videos, hosting, and overall spectacle fans see during Super Bowl broadcasts.

Jeremy Havens alumnus works on the super bowl as technical opperations creative media

“We over-plan and over-wire to ensure the fans don’t notice when issues arise,” says Havens. And the preparation truly is staggering.

Months before the big game, Havens and his team started planning site visits to audit the stadium’s existing video, networking, and infrastructural capabilities. Even brand-new, state-of-the-art venues require major enhancements, like the three miles of fiber optic cable and thirty-four network switches his crew installed in Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium for Super Bowl LVIII.

When Super Bowl week finally arrives, Havens oversees a crew of 150 tasked with constructing the complex, multi-faceted control room that powers the show. This includes specialized broadcast systems, production servers, and dedicated networks for the editing teams to capture footage in real-time.

Havens’ ability to lead this intense, high-stakes operation was honed right here at Loras in the creative media program under Craig Schaefer. “He allowed access to the systems and invited me to be a part of as much as I wanted to be,” recalls Havens, who embraced every opportunity from running cameras to editing and motion graphics.

“I gained the ability to always think ahead and anticipate what was needed,” he says, crediting experiences like upgrading the Rock Bowl’s video board and producing content for football games. More importantly, he learned “to be an active learner and responsible contributor”—core values that have guided his meteoric rise in the industry.

Animating Brands to Life

In the high-stakes world of big-budget advertising, brands can’t leave anything to chance. That’s where Connor Stickney (’14) and the team at Animated Storyboards come in. As a senior producer, he helps translate scripts into dynamic animated visualizations for testing with audiences.

Connor Stickney creative media alumnus working for animated storyboards

Stickney channels his creativity and drive into shaping some of the world’s biggest marketing campaigns. By fusing innovative technology with meticulous production, he’s become an indispensable part of the process that turns bold brand visions into polished realities on screens, big and small.

“I’m proud to have three commercials in the Super Bowl this year, which I produced test spots early in their production process,” says Stickney, whose work included visualization testing for ads by Hellmann’s, Nerds Gummy Clusters, and Doritos Dinamita.

Stickney played a pivotal role upfront. “Animated storyboards are a small yet integral part of most ad agencies’ or brand teams’ full production process,” he explains. “What I produce is an animated version of commercial scripts, and the videos are shown to test audiences for feedback.”

At Animated Storyboards’ state-of-the-art facilities, Stickney orchestrates a seamless process blending cutting-edge technology with creative ingenuity. The company’s 8,000-square-foot motion capture studio allows a team of artists and animators to transform rough storyboards into vivid 3D animatics, breathing life into concepts before a significant budget is committed to live production.

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