Ever since the seed of an idea of shifting my career strictly to Motion Design was planted, I knew that creating work for Television and Entertainment would be the ultimate goal for my career. There was a stretch of time where my wife and I would hop into bed to continue whatever binge worthy show we happened to be watching at the time and everytime the title sequence or on screen graphics would appear, I would think to myself; THAT'S what I want to do for a living... how the hell do I position myself to do that?
For the longest time, my professional life had a consistant underlying feeling of treading water. Before jumping fulltime freelance, I worked for a small production company that while I loved the work we created, this goal I had envisioned seemed about as plausible as completing the Iditirod. In the early months of 2019, one of my fellow MoGraph artists, Brandon VanAuken, had posted about a gig he was not able to take on. Seeing as my schedule was PRETTY clear for the upcoming weeks before I would kickoff work for TED, I reached out to him. Turned out, NBC Bay Area needed a full show re-brand for one of there long standing series. The amazing thing is, throughout my many years of primarily creating motion that was complementary or supplimental to live action pieces, had actually groomed me quite well to be prepared for a project like this. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to wet my feet in the broadcast entertainment world.
After a few talks with the producers over at NBC, we had begun the pre-production process. I was making good progress when I had gotten word that the producer heading the project had to take an extended leave of absence. Since I was just beginning work on the TED Conference, we had to put the brakes on this project untill further notice. By the time it was all said and done, we were forced to hold off production for almost two full months before moving forward. Luckily, the series was not scheduled to air till mid-late 2019, the opportunity still stood.
Once all the dust settled, we picked back up, essentially starting back from the top. This turned out to be extremely fortunate for me, as I had come off the amazing experience from TED with a newly kindled spirit to pump through a TON of work. Within just a couple days, I sent over the first Style Frames.
The initial creative brief from NBC had requested a much lighter, cleaner asthetic than their current graphics package which was quite dark and moody. This was something I was SUPER excited about. I had recently attended the Sarofsky Labs - Title Sequence Workshop in Chicago and pushed out a set of boards that was very much in this vein. While I was happy with the initial set of Style Frames, I was crossing my fingers they would sign off on one of the first two treatment options. I had ideas flooding my brain on how this treatement would be applied to the entire package. While concepts for the third treatment were not destitute, I was very much inspired by the first two.
Ultimately NBC came back and chose the third option. The initial brief had pushed the lighter feel, the Revelations production team had really wanted to see something a little darker and more moody. I sent a second round of Style Frames trying to walk the line of bringing this piece into a darker tone while keeping the original intent of the frames intact. Going into this, I knew I had right around 16 deliverables that made up the full graphics package, so I decided to first focus on getting the Title Sequence up and running. From there I could base the rest of my design elements off of what made the final cut in the Title Sequence. Once I received sign off on one of the style frames, I jumped into production on the animatic for the Title Sequence.
With their desire to keep the original theme music, I cut a piece around 25 seconds to lay a bed to build off of. The entire show is documentary based, focusing on moments in the Bay Area's history. So, I pitched the concept that the imagery would be focused on iconic locations around the Bay Area. This would keep just enough ambiguity to alot for a longer shelf life as it wouldn't be tied down to specific episodes within this first re-branded season. Since I had already built a pretty good gameplan on my approach for this piece animation wise, I decided to take the animatic a step further than normal and include the primary animation.
Feedback on the initial animatic was minimal. The only real hang up we were running into was that the imagery just wasn't quite working for the production team. NBC ended up sending over several select photos to use. I went back and re-worked the piece to accomodate the new photos. I also began playing with some of my lens overlay effects on the transitions. I wanted to work in what I would call tertiary design elements that would come in and out, giving me the ability to eccentuate and even smooth out certain transitions upon animation.
We ended up sliding in a few other photos that fit their narrative a little better. Because my initial pitch of using the Show Open as a way of placing our viewer in the setting of the Bay Area and giving the longest shelf life possible didn't pan out, we decided that I would create a project template in which they could easily flip out photos as the seasons progressed. This was a non-issue as I had already planned on supplying a project file that included custom built templates for the editors to use and repurpose.
I accomodated the new photo selections and dove into animating the secondary design elements. These secondary graphic pieces are what I used as the visual throughline for the whole graphics package. They also acted as a way to have firm control over eye trace to keep the viewers eye in the right spot of the frame through out this relatively chaotic open.
After final approval was sent over on the Title Sequence, I was able to blast through the rest of the show package rather quickly. As I mentioned before, I built everything out to be templated in After Effects. The only piece out of all these deliverables that was not built for itteration was the Show Re-Open. Diving into the rest of this package was super enjoyable for me. I got to spend a bit of time in FCPX, which I haven't REALLY had to be in for any great length of time since leaving the production company I used to work for. Working on the Lower Thirds and Callouts was something I used to do almost daily and although I would not want to go back to that world on a full time basis, it was a nice little bit of nostalgia that flowed over me from time to time.
Now that I've had enough time to step back from the finished piece, I can't say I'm SUPER thrilled with how the Title Sequence turned out but, I am pretty happy with how the graphics package as a whole. If I were to do this again, I would think twice about including a Style Frame that I don't personally feel SUPER inspired by. The initial idea of the Style Frame was that I could use that iconic Bay Area Fog as a way of tying the piece together visually, in the end I wish I would have dropped it back a bit or even gotten rid of it completely. It had a real tendancy of mudying the image pretty substantially in certain spots. In saying all this, I don't by any means think it turned out bad, I do however feel confident I could have created a stronger piece. All in all though, I'm proud of the work I put in and I look forward to another opportunity to work within this realm.
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