As a lead designer on the NBC Sports on-air graphic design team, the Elon alumnus has been instrumental in this season’s presentations of “Sunday Night Football” and “Thursday Night Football.”
The nonchalant nature of the two Emmy Awards laid across the blanket stood out on Jacob LaPlante’s Twitter post. The image seemed to pop off the screen – no easy task on a platform that is an endless stream of content screaming for one’s attention.
Etched into the familiar gold statues was LaPlante’s name, a formal acknowledgment of his outstanding work with NBC’s Super Bowl LVI Pregame Show and the network’s robust Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 coverage. In the pre-Thanksgiving Day social media post, the Elon graduate shared his gratitude, writing, “Lucky, honored and grateful to work with the absolutely best in the industry.”
While the awards were formally presented back in May, LaPlante is still getting used to his Twitter bio reading “2x Emmy winner.”
“It’s extremely special to attach that title to your name – not just because of the hard work that was put in over the last couple of years, but because those awards will always be associated with the hundreds of coworkers that help bring visions to life and the thousands of hours that it took to achieve,” LaPlante said. “To get that type of recognition with my colleagues just pushes me to keep working harder and keep trying to innovate in the broadcast industry.”
Five years removed from his Elon graduation, LaPlante has already accumulated some “Am-I-Really-Here?” experiences, including on-site work at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow and last February’s Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. As part of the NFL championship game, the alumni served on a team that completely redesigned the network’s score bug, among other on-screen graphics.
This fall, LaPlante has been an integral part of the NBC Sports graphics team, working on “Sunday Night Football” as well as “Thursday Night Football” on Amazon Prime. NBC produces “TNF” for Amazon and will continue to do so in the upcoming seasons. With the NFL’s regular season ending next week, LaPlante and company will shift their focus to the NFL playoffs, then begin prepping for the network’s launch of Big Ten football coverage, next season’s “SNF” and “TNF” slate, and the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
While each broadcast has been an opportunity to flex his creativity, his Super Bowl experience – and the countless hours spent perfecting his team’s work – stands apart, the cinema and television arts major explained.
“The moment when we finally went on air is something that I’ll never forget … particularly for the Super Bowl,” LaPlante said. “When the big game starts and the kickoff takes place, it’s an image that is so iconic to every Super Bowl – historically filled with hundreds of camera flashes and a release of anticipation. Last year, that release of anticipation meant so much more to me because of the graphics attached to that kickoff, which was seen by hundreds of millions around the country. It was sort of a ‘pinch me’ moment.”
Well before he landed his full-time position with NBC in fall 2018, LaPlante was a constant presence on campus, creating branding for Elon News Network and designing graphics packages for Phoenix All-Access and Phoenix Vision. If a graphic ran on a university monitor between 2015 and 2017, LaPlante often had a hand in its creation.
“The experiences in the classroom at Elon made the transition to the real world as seamless as it can be,” LaPlante said. “From group projects and learning how to collaborate and communicate with each other to work with realistic deadlines to finish and submit projects, Elon has prepared me for my career in a subtle yet extremely impactful way. Add my real-world experience with ENN and in the control room, and it’s a triple threat for employers to look to hire great talent.”
He added, “In broader terms, Elon taught me the basics on how to be a professional and how to collaborate in a meaningful way.”
As for displaying his Emmy Awards, LaPlante said he tries to keep them within eyesight when he is working from home. As one might guess, they serve as great motivation.
“Right now, they’re just sitting on a shelf in my home office,” he said. “There is no special lightbox or anything – mostly because I’m hoping to add more as I continue my career. To have them in sight as I work from home most days is extremely inspiring. Someday maybe I’ll be able to make a more dedicated spot for them.”