Pro athletes and Hollywood plastic surgeons may hang with celebrities – but with technology's impact on every facet of modern-day living, it's the unassuming techie that's emerging as the new 'rock star' of the professional world – and Galaxy 61 was recently called to help celebrate them. 9 Surf Studios tapped the talents of the design-driven Brooklyn-based animation/VFX boutique to help EE Times mark its 40th anniversary with the creation of 'Rise of the Geeks,' a package consisting of a 3D rendering of a new commemorative logo – and a techno-inspired animated app, which the MIN Awards recognized with an 'Honorable Mention' in the 'Best of the Web 2013 ' category, and was selected as a 2013 MAGGIE Finalist for 'Best Development of a Mobil App for a Tablet/Trade & Consumer'
Initially tasked with creating the artwork for the media outlet's print logo and the app for the "Rise of the Geeks' tribute issue, Tom White, designer/illustrator and owner of 9 Surf Studios, proposed evolving the 3D logo into a dynamic motion graphics intro for the app. The client signed off on the cost-effective element and White and Galaxy 61 owner, designer Doug Johnson, began devising an approach to take the 'Rise of the Geeks' campaign to the next level.
"Technology is largely the domain of 'geeks'- a subculture that, until the burgeoning of emerging media, was dismisses as nerds," says Johnson. "The challenge was to build upon the 'Rise of the Geeks' logo concept and create animation for the app referencing a series of technology-inspired visuals that illustrated just how instrumental their contributions have been."
EE Times, (formerly called Electronic Engineering Times,) has been covering cutting-edge technology for four-decades. The were looking for a comprehensive marketing effort that not only showcased the magazine's 40-year history, but also the dedicated, pioneering techies (such as Gordon Moore, Steve Job and other industry luminaries covered in the issue) responsible for transforming modern-day life.
Galaxy 61 built upon the magazines logo, integrating a stylized '40' element and the tag line, 'Rise of the Geeks,' into it to pay homage to the visionaries who've defined the electronic era. Johnson and his team took the job from concepting, storyboarding, modeling, animation, lighting and visual effects (projector, lightning, LEDs, hologram,) to editorial, compositing and sound design – providing a seamless one-stop approach to the job.
"Tom and I brainstormed the concept, and then he presented his sketches to the client," says Johnson. "Once they were approved, he created a grayscale illustrator file of each logo, and from that we built a 3D version of the logo. We could have stopped here for the print version, but since this logo was going to be animated – and we wanted it to be consistent with the print versions – we built some of the animation rig into the print logo."
The app's 24-second animated segment begins with the EE Times logo, which then reveals a complex fusion of mechanical elements. The universal symbol for 'ON' sets the action in motion. As the 'ON' button tips over, the image rapidly evolves into a timeline of iconic electrical engineering components – including intricate circuit boards, electric motors, and a CD-Rom player.
The entire structure of the lockup is set in motion by the 'ON' button and two mechanical arms that extend from the sides of the logo. Everything else unfolds from that, and had to be designed and rigged to come together in a realistic and believable way.
"From the beginning Tom and I collaborated on the concept and developing the look, components, overall structure and movement of the logo," says Johnson. "We always had a bedrock notion of this being a Rube Goldberg kind of contraption that would gradually reveal itself through a Transformer-like series of actions. The details were in the choice of electronic components and how they come together to form the logo lockup."
During the second part, 'Return of the Geeks' is initiated as the 'EE40' logo and then transforms into a projector, revealing a chronological series of technological developments – from analog oscilloscopes, meters, wires, chips, gears, solenoids, audio components – to van der graaf generators creating static electricity and LEDs. It then closes as the word "Geeks" appears as a dramatic hologram.
"The hologram simulation was somewhat challenging," adds Johnson. "Creating and building the elements, and choreographing their motion so that they'd interlock precisely, took considerable time to figure out and build.
"It's a fun animation with an implicit cheekiness to the "Rise of the Geeks" concept that we wanted to mirror with a light touch for the animation," adds Johnson. " And, the addition of the app to the project gave Galaxy 61 the opportunity to create an audio component and follow through with our vision by devising a symphony of mechanical noises to correspond to every motion in the animation."
White and Johnson also share an interesting back-story that began at Westlake High School in Thornwood, NY. The fellow graduates of the class of '79 were known for their drawings of elaborate parodies of movies, like 'Star Trek,' featuring their teachers as the cast. Although they lost contact after high school, they reconnected again at the 25th reunion, and began collaborating on White's logo designs when he needed them rendered in 3D.
"Tom's intricate typography and drawing have always seemed to cry out to be put in motion," says Johnson. "Collaborating with him on the transition of his illustrations to 3D is always a great experience."
Over the years 9 Surf Studios has tapped Galaxy 61's talents for a long roster of projects, including a logo for Emcor, Nerf, Izod's Center Banners, FIA and Lotto Max.
"Doug and I go way back," says White. "When we reconnected and started working together again, we kept the same fun spirit of collaboration that we had when we invented exotic characters and stories in our own versions of pulp magazines. It's just that the technology has changed since then – and has opened the doors to dynamic and endless possibilities. That's the reason I work with Doug on all my client projects that require animation. He' a true expert with an unmatched aesthetic, motion, and technical sensibility. His flexibility in collaborating with me on design development makes it truly easy to come up with the best solutions. And the icing on the cake is the range of looks he can create to be appropriate for virtually any project. My only reservation is that if too many people know how good his work is, he may no longer have time to work with me!"
The design of the anniversary logo and animation of the app were just two of the elements incorporated into EE Times' month-long 'Rise of the Geeks' campaign, which also integrated print ads, online media content, events, and marketing collateral.
TYPE: 3D print logo + animated app sequence
(online, events, marketing collateral)
PRODUCT: EE Magazine 40th anniversary multi-platform campaign
TITLE: 'Rise of the Geeks'
CLIENT: 9 Surf Studios/NJ
Producer: Tom White
Designer/Illustrator: Tom White
VISUAL FX/ANIMATION/DESIGN COMPANY: Galaxy 61/NY
Animator: Fola Akinola
Designer: Doug Johnson
(Equipment: Maya 2011, After Effects CS4)
MUSIC + SOUND COMPANY: Galaxy 61
Sound Designer: Doug Johnson
About 9 Surf Studios
Dedicated to creating well-crafted and striking visual solutions, 9 Surf Studios brings the full range of owner/illustrator Tom White's classical training to modern media. An early pioneer of digitaly-based image design, White specializes in branding, marketing and storytelling through typographics, illustration and image design. www.9surf.com
About Galaxy 61
Galaxy 61 is a design-drive animation/VFX boutique crafting captivating creative content that goes way beyond just expanding brand awareness to consistently deliver inventive, evocative, and even spellbinding visual stories. Compact and streamlined by design, it offers a seamless creative resource that can take the reins of a project from concept, design, animation, character development, motion graphics, FX print, and sound design – right through editorial and compositing. The ultimate creative partner, Galaxy 61 is a mash-up of experience, raw talent, wit, ingenuity, originality – merging art and technology to create unforgettable brand experiences for both digital and traditional platforms. www.galaxy61.com
–SHOOT Publicity Wire