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Diecks Group Redesigns Discovery Kids Network

Creating what is arguably both the biggest project and greatest success in its eight years of operation, New York's The Diecks Group recently delivered a complete redesign of Discovery Kids Network, a three-hour block of programming aired on weekends on the Discovery Channel. Creative director Brian Diecks and The Diecks Group team were the exclusive creators of 122 on-air design elements, including block opens, next-ons, bumpers, interstitials and promo elements. The project required extensive live-action, 3D animation, effects compositing and 2D graphics. The large-scale redesign began airing in the United States April 7. The new package will soon launch in Asia, Australia, Latin America, India and the U.K. In order to complete the project, the Diecks team had to locate the largest greenscreen site in the New York area, organize the largest crew ever enlisted by the company and transport numerous Media 100 and After Effects systems on-set so they could test compositing effects during the shoot. Aside from the sheer number of shots, a central challenge in the overall design was deciding how best to utilize the Discovery Kids logo, which depicts a tilting blue and green globe orbited by a smaller red planet. Diecks immediately realized the logo's interactive potential. Rendered in 3D using SOFTIMAGE|3D and Alias|Wavefront Maya, the invigorated and now-central logo quickly and smoothly traverses the screen, interacting with the 10- to 14-year-old actors, various wild animals and on-screen graphics. With its warm green and blue color pattern, the new Discovery Kids globe adds a vibrant look to the redesign while reinforcing the international flavor of the Discovery Kids personality. Diecks maximized the sweeping sense of space implied by the globe by using a wide-angle lens and motion control camera, which enabled him to focus closely on one actor while maintaining clear views of three or four carefully positioned others in the background. In addition to the actors, Diecks shot elephants, kangaroos, camels, snakes and alligators against greenscreen, then composited them into many sequences. Some pieces feature the animals with globe imagery composited directly onto their skin. The 2D globe imagery was eventually composited, together with the 3D logo, into the background of the live-action, resulting in a smooth blending of 2D, 3D and live-action. Though a massive undertaking, the Discovery Kids redesign is a towering achievement for The Diecks Group.