Broadcast Design

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National Nick at Nite

Did you have a totally rad button collection in the '80s? The crowd that did can now compare hairstyles with Uncle Jesse, Lisa Huxtable and Carlton Banks over on Nick at Nite, which has a gnarly new graphics package from L.A.-based designers at National. Writer/producer Steiner Kierce says, "All the ideas for both the promos and the refresh itself started with, 'Do you remember the one where ...' and from there we just took everything to its logical conclusion." Buttons carry names, phrases and iconography from the Me Decade's favorite shows, and a promo spot even features stonewashed jeans, bedazzled and personalized in Magic Marker. "We grew up with all these shows and let the humor and shared sense of communal experience guide the visuals" says Kierce. "We'd joke about specific episodes or styles from that era and find aesthetics that were reinterpreted or produced using contemporary techniques."

Troika VH1 "Sounds Like Music"

The overexposed broadcast design trend involving bright animated cutouts works to the network's advantage in the case of L.A.-based Troika Design Group's work for VH1. The station has become a go-to destination for pop culture junkies eager for the latest fix of Britney or Paris, but the extensive graphics package feels simultaneously trendy and timeless thanks to its concept and simplicity. Despite VH1's pop fascination, one of Troika's mandates was to stay true to its music background, and another was to do something creative with that giant cube of a logo. The result is a cube that leaves a trail of pseudo-dimensional lines that morph into music-inspired characters resembling the Beatles and Axl Rose, among others, which also serve as promo platforms for program information. Though the cube had to maintain the characteristics that make it recognizable, creative director and designer Reid Thompson explains, "The right side of the logo is a free for all. Using that side and perspective, we created lines that can carry information, and with the idea that the logo can transform, we created these characters." An accompanying image spot features the logo's lines moving around artists in video clips, pointing out details we otherwise would gloss over.

Interspectacular Comedy Central Redesign

After their 2004 redesign of Comedy Central's gritty urban graphics, designers at N.Y.'s Interspectacular weren't given a brief, just the mission of evolution. "This time around we thought it would be interesting to bring that rough street style and irreverent attitude to rural and suburban scenes," say designers Luis Blanco and Michael Uman. "Instead of buildings we had farm animals and instead of paint splatter we used bird poop. It made for some bizarre combinations." For example, the Comedy Central logo appears in the neck stump of a freshly-decapitated cow. "I guess you could say we developed a kind of strange suburban hillbilly street art aesthetic," the designers say. We couldn't put it better. We could, however, point out that Blanco and Uman underestimate the amount of excrement depicted in their work. Besides birds, other poopers include dogs, horses and octopi. Why? "Because poop is funny."

Shilo Huff Open

In the Showtime drama Huff, Hank Azaria plays a shrink with many issues of his own, and the opening title sequence-designed by N.Y. and San Diego-based design production company Shilo-is something that Freud would have a ball analyzing. Life-altering scenes are shown as framed pictures. Most move inside a wooden frame, and all are connected by the metal wires used for wall-hanging, which intertwine through a three-dimensional space. "The addition of virtual lights, shadows, film grain and depth of field helped give it a more traditional filmic feel," say Shilo designers Andre Stringer, Jose Gomez, and Christopher Markos. "The armature of the wooden frames allowed us to present the viewer with a plethora of imagery; conveying a wide range of emotions, from fear to joy to love, death, lust and guilt." Using composition and timing to create emotional connections, we see a baby's birth, sexual experiences, a gun and cocaine use as the camera focuses on frames layered at different depths in a simplistic yet strategically-styled space that plays games with perspective and distance, both visually and symbolically. At the end, it is revealed that the space exists in Huff's head.

CA Square Toon disney Europe

New York-based design company CA Square thought geographically when creating brand identity and promo packages for Toon Disney, the Disney Channel's "cheeky and curious younger sibling," as CA Square creative director Carlos Ferreyros describes it. The logo of the network, a version of Mickey's ears that borrow eyes from the O's in "toon," has brief adventures in each of six CG places inspired by the detail-oriented Disney parks. "We wanted a Times Square-type place, so we created Carnival Street," says Ferreyros. "We wanted a spooky neighborhood, so we created Enigma Road. We wanted a cool futuristic place, so we developed Space Park. We added Plaza for a downtown feel and Star District became our Hollywood." The colorful spots feature the type of animation that wouldn't be confused with programming, yet it all feels natural in the wacky world of kids toons.

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