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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Behind the scenes of sports content creation at Wichita State

%28Illustration%29
Wren Johnson
(Illustration)

Willie Schwanke, the senior content producer at Wichita State, is the creative force behind the hype videos that play before and during the Shockers’ home sporting events that aim to excite the crowd. 

Along with content producer Brian Barnes and graphic designer Katherine Ramirez, Schwanke also creates all the animations that play during games, pregame lineup videos for social media, TV commercials, and “99%” of the other videos and graphics that go up on the athletic department’s social media pages.

“Divvying up some responsibilities and time management is a huge thing,” Schwanke said.

Schwanke was also a member of the Wichita State baseball team from 2015-2017. At the time, he had no idea he would shoot and edit media as a career.

“When I was playing, I always enjoyed fishing and stuff like that,” Schwanke said. “So I created my own social media page for fishing, took the GoPro stuff, kind of learned how to edit that way.”

After graduating, Schwanke spent two seasons as a volunteer assistant baseball coach for the Shockers before taking a “leap of faith” into content production.

“There was a situation where I wasn’t going to be able to make any money as a volunteer assistant when we made a coaching change,” Schwanke said. “So I just told myself I was going to make a little bit of a living and see if this is the thing that I wanted to do at that time.”

Schwanke spent two years as an intern under former Wichita State digital media coordinator Marcus Wright before being promoted to the senior content producer role. 

“Marcus has really helped me a lot, learning Adobe and little tricks,” Schwanke said. “And then if I really want to dive into something cool, I’ll watch a video tutorial and try and train myself that way.”

Schwanke’s mind lends itself to self-taught photography and video editing. He says he has a playlist of about 800 songs for video on YouTube and sends himself direct messages on X whenever he sees a shot, background or animation that inspires him.

“I saw a lot of schools, they had basically what they call the recruiting room,” Schwanke said. “I reached out to a guy that I know that remodels houses and we built a full-on … six-plank recruiting background.”

The longest aspect of the production process is the preparation, especially for the introductory shoots of the players during the media day. According to Schwanke, the baseball shoot took four to five hours to complete.

“We had stations set up where I shot some creative stuff in the locker room with LEDs and the national championship trophy,” Schwanke said. “We had a green screen station for lineup animations and social media clips, and then (Ramirez) was with the backdrop in the weight room for her photos for graphics.”

For basketball media day, Schwanke ended up with 1,237 clips to sort through and organize. From there, the creative team begins to generate the starting lineup and pregame videos. It’s a time-intensive effort but one that Schwanke enjoys doing.

“My passion is just creating memories for these athletes and also giving back to a university (where I’ve) gotten my degrees,” Schwanke said.

As a former player, Schwanke has insight into how his produced content might impact the athletes on the field.

“It’s definitely something that could build confidence for you as you walk up to the plate or (as) you’re walking out to the mound,” Schwanke said. “It might just give just a little jolt of energy.”

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About the Contributors
Jacob Unruh, Assistant Sports Editor
Jacob Unruh is the assistant sports editor for The Sunflower. He is a junior at Wichita State, majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. This is Unruh's first year on staff. He goes by he/him pronouns.
Wren Johnson, Illustrator/Designer
Wren Johnson is an illustrator for The Sunflower. Johnson is a third-year communications major that loves chickens. In her free time she likes to read, draw, and hang out with friends. Johnson uses she/her pronouns.

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