Case Study by Christian Castel RGD, Creative Director, Tango Media Group
Tango Media Group specializes in motion graphics and design for corporate and broadcast clients. When designing for television or the web, we make sure the additional energy provided by animation, video and sound is all contributing to the same communication goals.
When we founded the studio in 1997, our mandate related to on-air branding or re-branding of television networks, shows, series and documentaries. Our relationship with the Discovery Channel started in 1998, when the network needed help to re-brand its network. Since then, we have collaborated on the on-air design for several shows and series. More recently, while producing animated segments for a second season of the Nerve Center series, Discovery Channel asked our studio to create the on-air look and animations for three new shows to be hosted by Jay Ingram. This case study is about one of the new science shows, Jay Ingram: from the INSIDE-OUT.
Discovery Science’s target audience is educated, inquisitive and active. The majority of viewers are over 35 years old and male. Jay Ingram, the host of the show, is well-known for being the host of the network's flagship show Daily Planet for the past 16 years.
Designing the on-air look of a television show involves creating all graphic elements (animated or static) required for the show's packaging. In this case, it included the show signature, opening sequence, bumpers, supers, transitions and animated segments.
First we created the show signature, or title: a clean, simple font layout rendered with a metallic finish giving it a cool lab feel. Then we sketched and storyboarded the opening sequence, the core element on which everything is based.
During the initial brief with the producer, we were told that the look for the show needed to reflect the host's style and personality. It had to be technical to echo the program's hi-tech content, but also be warm and accessible. Since the show was about new imaging technology for the medical field, we wanted to integrate some of these amazing visuals with a human body.
The concept for the show involves Jay becoming a human guinea pig - he even swallows a microscopic camera to get up-close-and-personal with his esophagus. For that reason, it made sense to use him as the centre element for the opening sequence and have multiple images orbit around him.
To get creative approval from Discovery, we presented a sample frame created with a stand-in for Jay and a pencil storyboard.
Next we shot Jay on a black background in the studio. He had to stand on a rotating platform and stare straight ahead for multiple shots so that we could get what we needed for the full sequence. This turned out to be a challenge - it was difficult for him to keep his gaze fixed as his eyes were constantly attracted by anything and everything.
At the post-production phase, we selected the best shots from all the raw footage and started building the 3D animated elements. Motion tracking and stabilization were done on Jay’s body so it could be composited with CGI over an abstract environment. A rough edit of the sequence was sent to the client for approval and comments. After final approval, this scene became the reference for the development of other elements in terms of style, colour palette, font, etc. Every scene was first sketched on paper, and then turned into a low resolution video clip to be sent to the client for creative feedback. The approved clips were then rendered in 720 HD to be inserted into the show edit for timing and flow. Once everything was locked, we prepared the full 1080 HD master files.
When creating a fully animated project, you have the luxury of changing between various camera angles and choosing to increase or reduce the number of scenes if it helps the storyline. When working with video, this is not always the case. You have to plan carefully and capture the right action and framing, as re-shooting is not always an option. This is why sample frames and storyboards are useful, first to explain the concept to the client but also to communicate your vision to the studio crew and cameraman.
The whole process took about three weeks from start to completion.
There are no mechanisms for measuring the impact of this type of design project, as you aren't able to look for increased traffic or revenue. Instead, it becomes a matter of answering the client’s needs and expectations. In this case, the client was very satisfied with the design and enjoyed the process, and so did we.
"Christian and his team were great at bringing my ideas to life on the screen with realistic CGI and graphics. They provided an outstanding product on time and on budget." - Stephen Grant, Producer / Director, Discovery Channel
- Providing a detailed, full colour sample frame is a must for getting everybody involved in the project on the same page. You can complement your presentation / updates with sketches, but the client needs to clearly understand what the sketches will translate into. Without this understanding, there is a much higher risk of failing to meet their expectations for the project.
- Regular updates and good communication with the client at every stage prevents mistakes and builds confidence. Don't underestimate the value of a few quick emails during the design process - it is important to keep the client in the loop.
- It's important to establish trust between client and design team to ensure success - make sure the lines of communication are open.
- Related to good communication, it is helpful for clients to provide images or video clip references at the initial stages of the project to clearly communicate their vision to the design team. Examples will help articulate what you're looking for and ensure the designer provides solutions that better meet your expectations.
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