LONG ISLAND CITY, NY — Creative studio Block & Tackle (www.blockandtackle.tv) recently created the logo, animated open and custom graphics for SneakerCenter, a seven-part miniseries that appeared on ESPN+. The program is a collaboration between ESPN, director Bobbito García and Hock Films, and is devoted to sneaker culture across sports, entertainment and more.
SneakerCenter features a number of star athletes, artists, enthusiasts and brands that are powering the global sneaker marketplace. For the preview episode,
SneakerCenter sat down with NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, just as Nike was readying for the historic release of his first signature shoe, the Zoom Freak 1. Each episode is anchored by a similarly-unique narrative, and is supported by a rotating set of "mix tape style" segments that take fans deep into different aspects of the sneaker movement.
B&T's partners and creative directors Adam Gault and Ted Kotsaftis, along with producer Megan Anderson, provided extensive behind-the-scenes details illuminating how the show package came to life.
"Not only did it need to reflect ’90s hip-hop and NYC street basketball culture, but also the diverse, global trends pioneered by current influencers," says Gault of the design. "The show is a celebration of all things sneaker, and an education on the history of design and innovation behind today's sneaker culture. As one of the world's foremost authorities on these subjects, Bobbito continually emphasized the need for authenticity, positivity, and high energy."
"We knew we had to design for mobile first, and make everything feel high-energy and fun," explains Anderson. "So, not only did the show's identity need to authentically represent sneaker culture, it also needed to be clean and engaging across multiple devices, and stand out among the app's show index."
Steeped in Bobbito's encyclopedic knowledge of important brands, classic silhouettes, and relevant cultural moments, B&T's team designed the show open as a freeform timeline through sneaker history. Dubbed Laced Up, the open deploys a set of animated laces, crisscrossing upward, creating different windows for imagery to live in. The camera travels up the shoe and catches the laces tying a knot as the logo appears on the sneaker's tongue.
"That structure really grounds the open and also sets a reverent but playful tone for the rest of the show," says Kotsaftis.
The logo draws further inspiration from sneaker aesthetics, like stitching, treads and laces. B&T’s minimalist hero logo honors ubiquitous sneaker-tongue brand patches, with varying font weights for added playfulness.
B&T's designers also created over 40 custom illustrations of seminal sneaker silhouettes, which appear throughout the package. Balancing the open's chunky illustration style with these sneakers' textural details required a total team effort. Ultimately, the illustrations and other design elements were compiled into customizable toolkits for ESPN to use in subsequent episodes. Those include five customizable title card templates for regular show segments, and multiple variations of lower-third graphics and animated transitions.
"SneakerCenter is exactly the kind of collaborative project we love: a hot topic, forward-thinking clients, and a touch of mischievousness," Gault concludes. "The team at Hock had a clear vision of where to take the show, and their counterparts at ESPN were wonderfully supportive. We can't wait to expand the package over subsequent episodes."