February 27, 2008


NBC Universal called on S4 to create a unique identity for its all-new lineup of original HD programming, The team of designer/director Geoffrey Kater and creative director Thomas Helmintoller used minimalist elements, but large in scope, in order to best take advantage of the 16:9 HD aspect ratio.

Three simple design elements - copper balls, metallic tubing and a geometric infinity plane  - move dozens of different ways in a dynamic interplay. The elements combine to introduce shows, fly around, wipe text on and off, and serve as IDs and screen snipes.

The design takes into account the different programming blocks being launched by Universal HD, which include sports, movies, series, originals and special presentations. Ultimately, each programming block has its own look, but with the same design elements throughout.

Most of the campaign was animated in NewTek LightWave 3D 9.0. Kater says much of the surfacing was created using the program’s new shader-node system. LightWave’s hard dynamics, depth of field and environmental controls were also called on. The team used workstations with dual quad-core Intels, running XP 64-bit and 8 gigs of RAM per render node. A 150-frame HD sequence could be rendered in 35 minutes. Final compositing and type creation was done in Adobe After Effects.

Additional S4 Studios credits include partner/writer Larry Le Francis, 3D animators Don McCoy and Ken Wilder, 2D compositor Craig Kuehne, and junior compositor Sarah Keturah.