Fox Sports

Retro Promo Campaign Branding

Fox Sports came to us to create some promos for their annual Throwback Week. What is Throwback Week you may ask? It’s basically a week of retro branding on Fox Sports in celebration of a yearly tradition in Nascar. Every year at Darlington, the teams paint their cars to match famous paint schemes from the past. These come complete with era accurate sponsor decals!! Fox Sports decided to join in the fun and rebrand their promos to hit that retro groove. What a blast it was to contribute to that effort!

Writing | Branding | Design | Motionography | Color Correction

The Glory Days Revisited

Creative Director: Eric Edwards
Directed by: Eric Edwards
Written by: Eric Edwards, Sevrin Daniels
Designed by: Vince Diga, Greg Herman
Animation team: Marcus Kulik, Ryan Davies
Producer: Andrew Kobliska
Executive Producer: Andrew Kobliska
Executive Creative Director: Sevrin Daniels

Network: FOX Sports 
Creative Director:
 Evan Mathis 
 Andrew Harwood 
VP of Marketing:
 Blake Danforth 
VP of Production:
 Claudina Mercado

Creative Director:Eric Edwards
Directed by: Eric Edwards
Written by: Eric Edwards, Sevrin Daniels
Designed by: Vince Diga, Greg Herman
Animation team:Marcus Kulik, Ryan Davies
Producer:Andrew Kobliska
Executive Producer:Andrew Kobliska
Executive Creative Director: Sevrin Daniels

Network: FOX Sports
Creative Director: Evan Mathis
Producer: Andrew Harwood
VP of Marketing: Blake Danforth
VP of Production: Claudina Mercado

The Process

We crafted spots for Fox Bet Live and First Things First that look like they came to us in a time machine from the distant past. Our Fox Bet Live spot to look akin to era sitcom promos for Alf or Who’s the Boss, while First Things First, a morning show, took inspiration from the title sequences common to morning shows your parents watched when you were a kid. These were a blast to work on, from the amazingly horrible VO and music to the wonderfully outdated graphics and transitions.

Defining The Movement of Old Tech

Creating convincingly retro spots may seem pretty easy; after all, technology has come a long way, right? But replicating effects that were built into ancient broadcast machines is a little more complex than you might think. Our team is used to finessing animations that move smooth as silk, with no jerky movements, no abrupt stops. Sophisticated animation is developed in large part by utilizing advanced curve techniques to finesse movement. Even basic easy ease or ease out curves are beyond the capabilities of old animation tech. The old school Digital Video Editors (DVE) used to just have linear movement available, so logo or typography zooms had a very specific look not commonly found today. In fact, clunky or linear movement is often referred to now simply, as a DVE move.

Defining The Look of Old Tech

The look needed an old broadcast non-flatscreen TV, recorded on a VCR, and replayed again sort of feel. So we dug through old broadcast promos for inspiration and guidance and developed a look that had the right balance of garbage and cheese.

Maybe you’ve heard the old saying, “it’s hard looking this good”? Well, we found it just as hard making these feel authentically unsophisticated. Getting the pixelation and fake 3d just right was just downright nerve-wracking to our team of perfectionists. So we dug in and developed all kinds of kitsch zooms, lots of echos, fake-looking lens flares, and retro-futuristic typefaces to make this truly authentic and unique for Throwback Week.

The Complexity of Perfect Imperfections

The animation team set out to degrade the footage and graphics based on our research and references while maintaining control over each part of the overall look and feel. The goal to make the footage look believably low quality required an incredibly complex effects stack and proved to be an exciting challenge. In the end we created effects stacks for a number of individual aspects such as color bleed, banding, ray gun misalignment, color shift, and edge fuzziness. Each aspect is infinitely controllable to tweak and refine all in pursuit of perfect imperfections.

how ai assists the old tech effort

Determined to get Back To The Future as quickly as a DeLorean could take us, we used Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for all the rotoscoping. We used a product called Runway ML that quickly analyzes footage and produces a rough rotoscope almost instantly. Video 1 shows a traditional rotoscoping process. One-click generated the green mask in Video 2, and another click would usually be enough to fix any errors. Typically we just needed to set it for one frame. Then it would process for about five minutes and have a video matte ready to download. Note the time difference between the two processes.

Video 1: Traditional rotoscope process

Video 2: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning assisted rotoscope process

Part of the old tech look included bad keys and rotoscoping and as we wanted these spots to feel authentically from the ’80s and ’90s, the unrefined AI-assisted keys ended up being an ideal solution. Because of the quick turn around time and the look we were going for, using artificial intelligence-driven rotoscoping was an perfect solution.

If you are interested in a deeper discussion about the impacts of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning on our industry, be sure to check out our ECD and Founders article titled “Me and AI Down By The Schoolyard”.

We really enjoy working with the New Blank, they bring a small agency approach to the work and make you feel like you’re making the most important job in the office. They kick off the jobs with lots of thoughtful questions, mining for insights that will put the project on the right course. The designs are always a nice array of choices rather than sketches. They always seem to find a way to beat the creative in the boards with the final piece.

Blake Danforth

Fox Sports

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