New Football Season Means New "Adventures of Cavman"

They've become as much a part of the pregame tradition at Scott Stadium as the Cavaliers themselves taking the field.

They're called "The Adventures of Cavman", a short pre-produced video package on the big stadium's big screen that shows Virginia's football mascot in a virtual battle with the opposing team's mascot, as a way to get the crowd riled up before the teams take the field.

UVa Video Services has been producing the "Adventures" for almost a decade now. And as you'd expect, Cavman is undefeated.

"I get kids come up to me all the time and say, "Hey, I love Cavman. It was great." And that's really rewarding to know," says Erik Elvgren, a member of the team that produces the features for every home game. "It's a lot of work, but it's fun."

Elvgren and fellow producer Matt Uncapher team up each season to create the adventures from scratch. Step One: Every adventure needs a good story.

"A lot of time we come up with the concepts for the bad guy, and what special power they have, based on who they are," Elvgren explains. "So if it's the UConn Husky, maybe he's got freezy breath."

Full story boards of each battle are sketched out to script each week's adventure. Then it's time to bring Cavman to life, using motion capture technology.

A ring of eight cameras is set up along the ceiling in a room at John Paul Jones Arena, using infrared to capture movements via a series of small bulbs on a special suit.

"All that data is captured -- eight cameras, eight snapshots, 60 pictures a second," says Elvgren. "All that data is then compressed into a moving image of those markers."

The motion capture setup is also used for the "Dancing Cavman" feature shown at UVa football games -- with 14-year-old Collin Adams of Charlottesville wearing the suit.

"It's hot. And sweaty," Adams says of the suit. "There are restrictions, but it's very elastic-y and stretchy. So that's good."

And through that motion capture technology, Adams will be able to watch his dance moves on the big screen at Scott Stadium this season. So, in a way, he is Cavman.

"Yeah, I've thought of that," he says. "It's an honor, because you get to represent something big as that. It's just so cool."

Eight home games in 2013 means eight new adventures for Cavman this season. And Elvgren is most excited about what Cavman has in store for the mascot coming to town on September 7.

"I think that possibly the best one of the season will be the Oregon Duck," he says with a smile. "It's bringing on a new creature in that one; not just the duck and Cavman.

"So I'll leave that as a teaser."

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