Course Intro:

Welcome to Art/CGI 441 – Broadcast Design. This course involves the creation of sophisticated title sequences, TV show packaging, and on-air promotions to be used as part of DVD, video, and film production. Motion Graphics is essentially the theory and practice of graphic design as applied to time-based media. As such, the same rules that apply to graphic design - color sense, typography, size relationships, the grid, etc. - also apply to motion graphics. However, we must now also consider the added dimension of time. In this class we shall be reviewing and relearning the former, while immersing ourselves in the nuance of the latter.

The overall goal of this class is introduce the skills necessary to create eye-catching title sequences, on-air graphics and broadcast-quality graphics packages used in film, television, web, and other video outlets.

 

Broadcast Design Terminology

Let's get our terms straight before we dig into some broadcast design research. There are a number of different pieces of animation that go into what is known as a 'broadcast pakage,' i.e. all the different on-air, animated items broadcasters place between or on-top of their content. Below is a run-through of some of the most common:

 

Bump or Bumper

A bumper is a little interstitial (i.e. in between) animation that just reminds you what you're watching, or tells you what's on next, or something else of interest. 

 

Bug or Snipe

Bugs are tiny animations that usually pop-up on the bottom left or right of the screen, notifying the viewer of some additional information the broadcaster wants her to know. Like when you're watching The Walking Dead, a bug would pop-up letting you know that The Talking Dead talk-show is one right after. Sometimes it just reminds you which network you're watching:

 

Lower Thirds

You've seen these a gazillion times. Lower thirds sit in the lower third horizontal section of the screen and have information about what's on screen. For example, who's pictured, what the subject of a discussion is, the location of the footage, the event name of the footage, stock tickers, time of day, sports scores, even a live Twitter field:

 

 

Opening Title sequence

This one is fairly self-explanatory, though they are a little more compact than full-on title sequences. They generally introduce a program or segment quickly. Harry Marks, one of the pioneers of broadcast design, created this famous opening sequence for the ABC Movie of the Week, where the camera appears to fly through, in, and around logo-types and other, more abstract shapes:

It may look kind of dated while we sit here in the 21st century, with powerful animation software literaslly at our fingertips. But consider that Marks and his team did all of this without a computer, and yet we're still making use of these same ideas today:

In point of fact, Harry Marks didn't actually come up with the techniques used above all on his own: he consulted heavily with artist and designer Douglas Trumbull, fresh off the production of Stanley Kubrick's science fiction classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey:

 

The Title Sequence

We all know this one: the best title sequences tell you the a.)name of the show/film, b.)who made it, c.)who's in it and, most importantly and challenging, d.)the nature of the universe you are about to enter. You may even have your own favorite title sequences in mind. Here are a few examples of title sequences or logo reveals that I am really loving:

 

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

 

 

True Detective

(produced by The Mill+ and Antibody, 2018)

 

Stranger Things

(by Imaginary Forces for Netflix, 2016)

For a solid rundown of how this sequence was made, check out [this article]. 

 

Seven (1995)

(designed by Kyle Cooper of R/GA, 1995)

For a solid rundown of how this sequence was made, check out [this article].

This classic title sequence does a really good job of setting the general atmosphere for a deeply disturbing film. It also does something even more important: it introduces us to the villian John Doe, a serial killer who meticulously documents his bizarre philosophy and research about killing people. This sequence recalls to mind the macabre work of photographer Joel-Peter Witkin:

 

And the work of experiemental filmmaker Stan Brakhage:

 

Creation (1979) – Stan Brakhage

 

The short film below features designers Clive Piercy and John Sabel discussing the concept design and production process of this piece, with different production stills of the notebooks used throughout the film. It unfortunately doesn't show the actual process of creating the title sequence itself, but it is interesting to hear what the designers were thinking when they began creating the piece. 

And finally, take a look at these storyboards for the sequence, which precede the actual storyboard production. These are essential in narrative film and animation production because they provide designers with a solid understanding of the camera angles, camera movement, mise en scène, and the general atmosphere of the piece. 

 

Storyboard art by Wayne Coe

 

Class Exercise: The animated Logo

So today we're going to start a mini motion graphics design project in class tonight. First we'll design a simple logo, then talk about how to animate it, then try to quickly animate it in After Effects. Anything we don't complete, we'll work on next week!