Issue: June 1, 2007


Studios that provide broadcast design services are faced with unique storytelling challenges. It’s more than just using digital tools to create a nice look. The end results have to quickly reflect the theme and personality of the show or network, and even of its viewers. This identity will serve as a calling card, reaching beyond broadcast to print and the Web.

One current trend that pros are noticing in design is the disappearance of the traditional show open, recognized for years by its catchy music and proper introductions. Today, many shows are pulling viewers into the action immediately, and before they know it, they are watching a program without even realizing it.

William Lebeda, creative director/co-designer at Picture Mill agrees, though the studio recently completed work on a more traditional open for Drive. Live action of actors was shot against greenscreen and compositing with CG cars to quickly reflect the show’s racing theme.

Brian Mah, from Imaginary Forces, also approaches his work from a storytelling angle. “We always begin from the standpoint of assessing the project and what story we are trying to tell. It does spider out from that, and we have certain processes for each, but it begins with the story aspect.”

Mah recently worked on redesigns for USA and Lifetime, and says the studio included Web and print ideas in their broadcast pitch.

“I think it’s something [clients] are more and more concerned with,” he notes. Like Lebeda, Mah also sees changes taking place with show opens.

“It seems that they are trying to trim off any sort of extraneous content and get viewers right into the action,” he observes. “The same thing with the Web — they are trying to capture the audience’s attention and redirect them back to their programming as much as possible.”

Mah says he finds inspiration for his design in the work of accomplished photographers, who tell stories with just a single image.

“I really appreciate the use of color and space, and think that that sort of ‘imagery storytelling’ has a direct link to the live action and the storytelling aspects that we deal with.”