New York, NY -- Creative strategy and production company BigStar is having a busy fall season having completed two major projects for clients ABC News and Food Network. The first is a redesign of "ABC World News with Diane Sawyer," which included a new logo, show open and graphics package. The second is a series of dramatic promos for "The Next Iron Chef Redemption."
For "ABC World News," the client was looking for a new modern and clean look atypical of the nightly news convention. The goal for the rebrand was to create a design that reflected Diane Sawyer's smart and relevant reporting style. BigStar developed a number of ideas, ultimately honing in on 3D animated cubes, which rise to define the geography of the world on both an intimate and international scale.
"In our development process, the throughline was that ABC illuminates and defines the world around us both nationally and internationally," explains Josh Norton, BigStar President/Executive Creative Director. "Since the program portrays global news as seen through America's eyes, we dialed-in the colors, which phase from glossy silver to red, white and blue. The 3D cubes serve as a transitional device, rising like a dynamic mosaic to form the topography."
Diane Sawyer also weighed in on the final design, which included humanizing the program by adding more energy, color and light. The lighting effect acts as a spotlight pushing up towards the sky, capturing the personality and warmth of Sawyer as the show's anchor.
"ABC was great to work with," says Norton. "The creatives were able to look at rough gray-scale render animations and narrow down the behavior of the cubes and how they animated throughout the package. This saved us a lot of time, and really allowed us to focus on developing the glassy, high-end production value."
The "Next Iron Chef" focuses on 10 Kitchen Stadium veterans returning for a second chance at victory. Top-notch chefs such as Jehangir Mehta, Elizabeth Falkner, and Alex Guarnaschelli put their reputations on the line, battling to prove their culinary greatness for the ultimate prize: the title of Iron Chef. In the promos, the chefs perform their kitchen acrobatics with precision and skill on a massive prep table, set against an ominous dark sky and environment seemingly reaching infinity. As flames spread across the landscape, it coalesces into a fiery phoenix, the ultimate symbol of redemption.
For BigStar, the goal was to create a visual package that embodied the idea of redemption in a powerful and dynamic way.
"We spent a lot of time developing the story of combat and salvation by using universal symbolism throughout to poetically bring the viewer through different events," says Norton, who directed the 10 chefs during a one-day shoot. "These contestants are facing one of the greatest challenges of their career to become an Iron Chef. We visually conveyed this by showing them as larger-than-life personalities surrounded by a harsh and unfriendly environment. The fire and steel added to the drama, heightening the sense of conflict, while the phoenix rising from the ashes became a metaphor for their redemption."
BigStar shot on the RED Epic at 120 fps at 4K, which enabled them to take advantage of every simple movement in-camera and create a lot of drama through ramp-ups and slow-motion. Norton and his team immediately began to build textures and research background plates for the environments. Norton says the trick was to figure out how to create a fantastical world that was cinematic yet felt convincing and real.
An even bigger challenge was the phoenix, which involved extensive modeling and motion tests, and flame simulations. The realistic action of the flames was ultimately created from a combination of FumeFX, 3D Studio Max, and After Effects.
"The team at Food Network was just amazing," concludes Norton. "Genuine and enthusiastic creative partners who entrusted us to create a rich visual experience that would blow viewers away. This was all about the cinematic production value and going after the biggest effects. Being able to handle the concepting, live-action and post was key to creating a truly successful campaign. We had a blast applying all of our thinking and creativity to this project."