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How'd They Do That?

Every year, the mayor of the City of Houston holds an event where he delivers his State of the City address. For the past few years, we've been asked to produce a video for the big event. In 2021, we created a "Day in the Life" sort of video that still makes us proud.

This year took a slightly different turn - they wanted us to give Mayor Sylvester Turner a "wow moment" just before he stepped up to the podium. Well, give us a challenge and we will take it. "Wow" is what we went for with this huge (literally huge) project. We created a 35-second-long, 11,000-pixel-wide, animated visual treat where the mayor "travels" to all corners of the city in dramatic and stylish fashion.

See the results here (full video that appeared across the entire stage at the top):

So, how exactly did we pull this off? It started with an idea and a team brainstorm session, as many of our projects do.

Storyhive creative mind Joe proposed a fun stop-motion-like treatment, we all loved it and motion graphics artist Jeff ran with it.

A graphic mood board with various images and magazine cutouts

A visual mood board was created.

Then style frames were born.

And they were bee-autiful. 🐝

After doing some research, the project's producer, Courtney, pondered aloud about putting the mayor on a green screen treadmill. Co-owner Alex also ran with that. 🏃🏽‍♀️ Straight to Amazon.

Production manager Eric spent a day disassembling and painting our new studio treadmill. Be mesmerized by his skills below.

While the camera crew prepared to film the live-action portions of the video, co-owner and photographer Tom traveled around the city to capture all the imagery for the backgrounds.

In mid-October the mayor joined us for a fun filming session at HTV's studio inside Houston City Hall. We made sure to perform several test runs before we put Mayor Turner through the process.

in a green screen studio Mayor Turner walks on a treadmill while a woman hands him a hat

The mayor of the fourth largest city in the nation gets busy sometimes (😆), so we weren't sure exactly how long we would have him with us in the studio. We had a "must-get" shot list and a "cut if we run out of time" shot list.

Mayor Turner stepped into the studio at the end of a long day of work, and was a great sport, donning several types of headwear, including his own cowboy hat.

We appreciate all of the trust he and his team placed in us. We know it still looked a little crazy at this point in the process!

With only about two and a half weeks to go, we had to finish up and polish this thing pretty quickly.

Mayor Sylvester Turner holds an astronaut helmet while posing with five film crew members

After all of the pieces had been captured, Jeff got to work finishing this massive masterpiece.

After effects magic.

Clickity-click click click.

Render, render, render.

Toss in some amazing sound effects.


a gif of the mayor on green screen which transitions to a black background then the final video

Rehearsal with the Houston First Events Team on the day before the event was a big moment for the team - just to see our work on the giant LED screens on the stage was a big relief. It looked and sounded great!

two men sit facing a giant screen showing the mayor in a sports scene

The big day finally arrived on November 2, 2022. The Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Americas-Houston was full of 1,600 local elected officials, dignitaries, business owners and supporters.

After some fun performances, an awesome poem and speakers, it was time.

Woohoo! The feedback we got was super positive!

All-told, this was an amazing experience. Our team got to stretch our creative legs and collaborate on a unique project.

We are thankful to have the opportunity to use our talents to serve the city we love.

three Storyhive film crew pose with a printed State of the City program


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