Behind the Scenes: Panini America at Packout (with exclusive video)

The long list of my sports heroes actually isn't long at all. John Elway's at the top, followed by the likes of Carlton Fisk, Vance Johnson, Ed McCaffrey, Tim Tebow, Larry Fitzgerald, Clint Dolezel and Will Pettis. That's about it.

The long list of my sports heroes actually isn’t long at all. John Elway‘s at the top, followed by the likes of Carlton Fisk, Vance Johnson, Ed McCaffrey, Tim Tebow, Larry Fitzgerald, Clint Dolezel and Will Pettis. That’s about it.

But after the events of Friday morning, I’m contemplating adding one more to the list: John Mata. Who’s John Mata? Glad you asked.

For starters, Mata is an Art Director at Panini America. He’s also the distinguished gentleman who — unprovoked, mind you — filled my email inbox this morning with the remarkably revealing images and video below detailing some rarely seen aspects of card production.

Turns out Mata (along with some of our other teammates whose jobs it is to make our trading cards look their best) took a field trip across town bright and early Friday morning to our printing and packout facility. He was admittedly blown away by what he saw and figured readers of The Knight’s Lance would be, too. So he snapped some pictures and rolled a little film.

True acts of sports heroism if you ask me.

“I was amazed by how much work goes into the producing the cards,” Mata said. “It’s a long, long road. Seeing the intricacies of the process put what we do on a whole new level.”

On Friday, 2010 Gridiron Gear Football, 2010 Plates and Patches Football, 2010-11 Donruss Hockey and 2010-11 Threads Basketball were all making their way through various stages of the manufacturing process, from printing and foiling to UV coating and cutting. As you’ll see, Mata captured a little bit of all of that and more.

“I loved the tour; it was very cool,” Mata said. “As a designer, you spend hours and sometimes days on a card, then you move on to the next project. And then months down the road, your cards are printed, or born, and you feel like a proud parent when someone says how much they love the way it looks.”

John, I’ve got a feeling they’ll be saying that a lot — about your designs and about this unprecedented access . . .

In this brief, rare look at the trading card production process, we take you to the floor of Panini America’s printing facility. Stay tuned next week for a more in-depth look at the process.


14 Replies to “Behind the Scenes: Panini America at Packout (with exclusive video)”

  1. That’s awesome. Thanks for the inside look. It’s def cool to see how cards are made, since most collectors spend so much time collecting, blogging, buying and thing cards. I don’t think we know just how much goes into the process from start to finish. I’m think I have a decent knowledge of trading cards, but I have to claim ignorance on production. Sure, I have ideas of how they’re made, but this post series is certainly opening my eyes. Thanks T!!!

  2. Tracy,
    I must say, you have taken this to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL!!! You asked us what we wanted to see and you are following thru on it!! I LOVE reading your blog because i REALLY wanted to see an inside look as to what really goes on behind the scenes. Im blown away with how much really goes into making these cards!! So thank you for your time, dedication, and most importantly your integrity to this blog, and truly listening to the collectors. This blog alone has made me a MUCH BIGGER fan of Panini and all of their products!

    keep up the great work!! Look forward to reading more!!

    1. Chris, I really appreciate your kind words, man. They mean a great deal. Thanks for reading the blog and for your input in helping drive its content. You and the countless other passionate folks out there who collect our cards are the reasons we get to do this. Thanks again.

      Best regards and have a great weekend.

  3. It is good to show part of the process on how the cards are made ……..working in the art field in one form or another most of my life I find it is a good to show……I find it gives collectors more of an understanding on the amount of work that goes into producing a product …….and maybe when collectors pull that odd damaged card they won’t be so quick to jump the gun but rather handle matters with a little more respect……Great job

  4. This is exactly what I had hoped for from this blog. Anytime you get an inside look at how much work goes into making a product, you can’t help but gain respect for the process and the people involved. I would love to see more videos like this, expanded it would make a great segment for “How It’s Made.” Seeing the corrections on the product like the x out of the double white patch here and, in a previous post, the wording for the packaging is a true insider’s view. It’s something that many companies wouldn’t want to release, but for the collector, it makes the product that much more intriguing and therefore desirable. I’ve said in the past, for a blogger, coming up with fresh ideas for posts on a consistent basis is a difficult task. Not only has this blog met that challenge, its done in a way that is informative and entertaining, and avoids feeling like one big PR campaign. Kudos on a job well done and please keep bringing us these inside looks.

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