In August this year, Fox Sports 1 - America's new 24-hour sports network - hit the screens. And, in order to promote it, the channel came up with an inventive way of creating some new idents. Deciding the title would be 'The (blank) one', the company contacted a number of directors and animation studios with its idea.
Not to Scale director Chris Dooley explains: "Each director would be given up to three different words to fill in the blank and interpret their meaning in the most creative way possible.
"At the time, the network was still in the process of defining it's personality. Their feeling was that the fun of watching sports has been missing lately, so words like light, playful and unexpected were emphasized throughout the original brief. They were inspired by the MTV logo animations from the eighties that had been commissioned to different artists with the singular focus of presenting the now iconic MTV logo in a unique way.
"The words I was given were tribal, radical and star-spangled. With that in mind, I presented a number of concepts and techniques for each word along with style frames, reference and writing. Once we locked into a concept for each, there was a round of story and look development which ranged from pencil drawings and storyboards, to the creation of vector artwork and 3D models."
With concept work completed, the Not to Scale team started creating the idents in 3D, modelling, animating and rendering everything in Maya. But as production progressed, building everything in 3D presented some challenges.
"To transition between the spirit animal masks in the Tribal animation, I had originally planned to simply morph from one to the next. It was a fast transition, and seemed like something that could be easily faked.
"However, because everything was being built in 3D, we discovered the transformative effect I was looking for was completely missing. It felt like a cheat. After some initial R&D, I felt the best solution was to engineer the models based on the artwork, so that the parts from one could seamlessly become parts from next one. We were allowed some latitude in terms of things disappearing behind other things, but for the most part every transition was designed to make the best use of each of the model."
Dooley's approach to the Radical ident was entirely different to the complex transitions created for the Tribal spot. "I wanted the art direction of the space to be quite minimal for this one. This meant that the look and personality of the 1 character would need to be visually extra-engaging. His over-enthusiastic personality was established quite early on, which left the his look to be developed.
"We needed to see him both in wardrobe, and completely nude. Anatomically-correct nonetheless! After an exhaustive exploration, we landed on a subsurface scattering look which gave him a bit of an inner glow and a soft, almost nerf-like exterior. Aside from being nicely branded, it helped separate him from the flat, graphic background and also made him feel bit more special -- both with clothes and without."
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