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Super Bowl LV:

“Before Jackie”

The Challenge:

With race at the forefront of conversation in 2020 and within the NFL, CBS was looking to honor the forgotten heroes of long ago, known as the ‘Invisible Black football players”, by creating a 7 minute animated documentary about Kenny Washington to air in the Super Bowl Pregame Show. With less than one month to bring this to life, CBS turned to Versus.

Project Components

Design & Animation
Live Action
Post Production

The Creative Solution:

The Versus team eagerly took on the challenge of creating “Before Jackie”, an animated documentary film featuring Academy Award-winner, Viola Davis, that honored the moment when the NFL and Kenny Washington broke the unofficial color barrier which kept Black players out of the league for 13 years. The story of Kenny Washington needed to be told over multiple time periods, where the story of Black achievement in the Jim Crow era often led to disenfranchisement, separation and exclusion of Black people from the American Dream. With so much narrative to explore, it was important that Versus found a uniform approach that could continually bring the audience into an often invisible era.

The Craft:

For “Before Jackie” Versus brought to life the early days of the NFL juxtaposed with glamour of Los Angeles and Hollywood by creating a unique illustration featuring a limited palette of golden sepia tones and a greenish patina of time. By using textures, low frame rates and carefully crafted illustrations we managed to create a look that was a conscientious nod to the early magic of Hollywood and film.



The Results:

Word spread quickly online during the Pregame about our stirring documentary, with @ViolaDavis trending, and “Before Jackie” receiving widespread acclaim and over 100k views in the first 24 hrs.

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