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Jetcetera: Real Jets, or just body doubles?

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Can you spot the body doubles, Jets fans?

Just as the players had but a few short days to get organized for an abbreviated training camp following the NHL lockout, the team's audio-visual group was in the same boat.

They're the guys who produce almost everything shown on the big screen before and during a game.

The pre-game video that was shown before all home games last season, which involved Jets players and an F-18 fighter jet, was a must-see for many fans.

But a video of that calibre requires careful editing for maximum effect and can't be whipped up over the lunch hour.

A new pre-game video was required for this year but, with the NHL lockout delaying the start of the season, Kyle Balharry, director of event production at True North, wasn't sure Jets players would have enough time to shoot a video when the lockout eventually ended. So he had a Plan B.

When the lockout was still underway, he hired a few players from the Winnipeg Blues junior hockey team, who were similar in body type and shot with the same hand as several Jets, to do skating and stickhandling as well as some starting and stopping while the cameras rolled.

"You've got to use some tricky photography and video shooting to make sure you're not getting their faces in," Balharry said. "We use body doubles now and then just because of access (to Jets players). We'll use a combination of the (Jets) players and body doubles in the (pre-game) video."

Both Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler took some time after practice to shoot their spots, but if they weren't able to, then the video shown to fans would have been done completely using anonymous junior players. That one, as you might have guessed, hit the cutting-room floor.

Wheeler said he was honoured to be asked to participate.

"The pre-game videos are really cool. They do a really good job with it," he said.

And when various videos are being played on the big screen during a break in the action, do the players watch?

"Yup, every time," Wheeler said. "When they repeat them, I watch them then, too."

If the star of a player profile happens to be sitting close enough to him, Wheeler admits he might have to chirp something at him about a particular answer, too.

Some fans who loved the pre-game show during the Jets' return season, most notably the haunting melody of Heart of Courage, by Two Steps From Hell -- some fans even downloaded it as their cellphone's ringtone -- might be sad that it wasn't brought back again this season.

Balharry said he hopes they won't be upset and that they'll just get a new ringtone this season. (This year's song is a cover of the old Phil Collins' hit, In The Air Tonight, by Nonpoint.)

"It's important to us for our fans that we come up with a whole new intro every year, with new songs and new videos," he said.

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 12, 2013 A2

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