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SALT LAKE CITY — It's full court press for Roger Hendrickson and his team at Vision Graphics. They're printing way, way, larger-than-life photos of the Utah Jazz team that soon will wrap the arena's exterior walls.
"Everybody's so excited and thinks that it's really cool we get to do that stuff," said Hendrickson, a senior account manager at Vision Graphics.
The images are printed on pressure-sensitive vinyl with an adhesive backing.
"You want images that are going to stick and stay on the window, but at the same time, they have to come off," said Hendrickson.
A picture of Jazz center Rudy Gobert just hit the press. Hendrickson received the photo from the art department of Larry H. Miller Entertainment and Sound. A grid splits Gobert's photo into long, horizontal sections that represent one roll of the vinyl. Shorter vertical lines represent the width of window panes on the Arena wall.
Even when printing three horizontal rows simultaneously, Hendrickson says an image on this scale can take two or three days to print.
A UV light in the print head cures the ink with each stroke. This allows the vinyl Rudy Gobert to be rolled up right off the press so his image can be cut to size right away.
A team hand cuts each roll.
"They'll trim off the waste on the side," said Hendrickson. "They'll split them (the rolls) on the little tick marks on the little grid we have. We cut these to the width of the windows. We have to have the pieces manageable so that the installers can unroll and then stick them on."
The team will also use the grid to mark each cut so the installers can identity where each section should go.
At the job site, the installers sort out and then load the rolled-up vinyl sections onto a boom and head up to the top of the Arena window to start a new column as they gradually unfurl the vinyl Rudy Gobert.
Ben Barnes, art director for Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment, and his team designed the wraps going up on the Arena.
"We do have some of the best players in the league on our team — some of the best athletes in the world," Barnes said. "We just want to get people pumped up for the games."
"We like using our shots from our Production Day," said Barnes. On that day, the entire Jazz team gathers for photography sessions on which the season's marketing materials will be based.
"They are our highest-resolution shots," said Barnes. "They're all shot at the same time, so they all have the same lighting."
The planning into the vinyl wraps and other such materials often starts before the previous season ends.
"We'll start thinking about what we want to do," said Barnes, "how we can make this bigger, what are the spaces we can use that we haven't used before. We'll start knocking things out, getting some ideas out. There are a lot of rounds of revisions."
We do have some of the best players in the league on our team — some of the best athletes in the world. We just want to get people pumped up for the games.
Barnes says each year, his department tries to go bigger than they have previously.
"In the past," said Barnes about this year's design, "we've hidden the color down in the corner. We want to make it different than before, so we're not doing the same thing. So we're really bringing out the colors of the team. We want to feature the players as larger-than-life. We want to feature our color scheme — bright and bold."
Hanging the vinyl
Other than safety gear, the installers have two main tools: a squeegee and soapy water.
"If you don't squeegee all the bubbles out," said Kennion Brown of High Tech Window Cleaning, "you leave the bubbles — big bubbles."
While squeegees keep air bubbles out of the mix, the soapy water helps keep the vinyl on throughout the season.
"It's surface tension," said technician Joel Lewis, "and it helps when you put it on to stick, and then after, when the sun hits it, it will dry, making it a kind of an adhesive."
The alignment is the most critical thing," said Brown. "We have to start from the beginning. It takes a lot of concentration right there, but the rest is fairly easy. If you mess up just a millimeter, you could be a couple inches off at the other end of it (vinyl section)."
"You go through the process and sometimes the headaches of getting produced and then hung," reflected Hendrickson after several years of producing these wraps for the Utah Jazz. "And, then to see it up — it's really exciting. It's almost like exhilarating to think, 'Oh my Gosh, look what we did!'"
"This is a special year," said Jazz marketing vice president Brendan Burke. "We want fans to come and notice things are different — notice things are special."