Johnny’s X-treme Adventure


BROADCAST: SHOW SEGMENT SKIT
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist | Senior Broadcast Designer
VENDOR: G4 Media | Comcast
ART DIRECTOR: John Hudson

Dressed in his trademark Cult wifebeater and bandana, Johnny X-treme was the alter ego of Smoke Artist/Editor Jason Cheung. When Jason wasn’t cutting on-air promos, he was living the life of Johnny, a recurring character on the former game-centric network G4.

The only thing you need to know about Johnny is that he’s “extreme” just because he says so.

Well, Johnny eventually decided to put his money where his mouth is, “releasing” his very own “extreme” video game, titled “Johnny’s X-treme Adventure.”

Of course, the game itself wasn’t real. But the parody review of the fictional video game was.

Created specifically for the popular review show “X-Play, “Johnny’s X-treme Adventure” promised the most “extreme” gaming experience ever. What debuted was the ultimate mediocre 8-bit 2D scroller … ever.

For the game, I designed many of the characters that Johnny battles: the sharkasaurus, lava monsters, and snakes with jetpacks. I also contributed a number of environments: the ice caves, the lava planet, and the White House lawn. I even designed an “extreme” poster for the game. See below.

Incidentally, “Johnny’s X-treme Adventure” only received a rating of 2 out of 5 stars.

JXA Poster

Digital Digs


BROADCAST: SHOW OPEN | ON-AIR PROMO
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist | Senior Broadcast Designer
VENDOR: G4 Media | Comcast
ART DIRECTOR: Julie Fields

In an effort to involve their audience more directly in the programming, but not succumbing to the “reality” approach, TechTV came up with the idea of giving a lucky viewer a $100,000 tech makeover for their home, and consequently filming the process from start to completion.

When TechTV was acquired by G4, the show carried over to the more youth-oriented network. As a result, the tech makeover had a few more X-Boxes and Playstation’s attached to the prize.

The design directive was to update the existing graphics to fit the G4 tech-savvy youth aesthetic. This wasn’t so much a redo as it was a revision, keeping the general structure of the graphics package, while updating the palette, fonts, and coating it all with a bit more gloss.

The walking house that begins the clip is actually taken from a promo that occurred after the initial airing of the G4 version of “Digital Digs.” I had a bit more freedom to create on this one, since it was an entirely new deal. And since I’m a fan of collage animation, and I was asked to do something with a house, I came up with a silly transformer-style arachnid mobile home.

Screensavers


BROADCAST: SHOW OPEN
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist | VFX Compositor
VENDOR: G4 Media | Comcast
ART DIRECTOR: Julie Fields

Following G4’s acquisition of TechTV, the latter network’s classic tech-variety show “Screensavers” was the first to get retooled and updated.

Being less tech, and more tech-entertainment, G4’s brand of video game-centric ideas permeated the new “Screensavers,” giving them a new day-glow, romper-rhumba-room colored set, and a new list of topics to cover – comics, movies, and of course, video games.

As G4 was already abounding in enough video game imagery, the creative direction went towards comic book language instead. The idea was to keep the existing logo and narrative structure from the old show. But update it with a new pop-art comic look and So-Cal setting (vs. the old San Francisco setting).

Movie Fanatix


BROADCAST: SHOW GRAPHICS PACKAGE
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / Broadcast Designer / 3DS Max Artist
CLIENT: TechTV
ART DIRECTOR: Rick McKee

Branded a technology-based network, it was inevitable that TechTV would feature a show about film visual effects. At the time, digital effects were midstream through dominating the medium. Practical gags were still in use, with in-camera effects and miniatures continuing to be worthwhile techniques. But the writing was definitely on the wall, and the oncoming digital takeover would only be a matter of time.

As such, this proved to be an exciting time to capture and chronicle the transition from old school to new. And “Movie Fanatix” was TechTV’s solution to doing so.

With limited budgets and resources, there was no way the cable-based network could afford to do a graphics package that could visually compete with the content being presented.

The solution was to focus on concept over execution – the idea being centered around the infinite possibilities offered by a bluescreen shoot, where the show’s host would step in and out of virtual worlds via the bluescreen.

The end result had both good and bad moments, but it worked for its time. One positive outcome was finally getting to use “Chickadee,” a stop-motion biped robot that an old friend and co-worker Mike Murnane designed and shot for an abandoned short film.

Let Er’ Rip


BROADCAST: SHOW GRAPHICS PACKAGE
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / Lead Broadcast Designer
CLIENT: TechTV
ART DIRECTOR: Rick McKee

This TechTV show definitely had a playful and somewhat absurd title. But given the show’s focus on eccentric people engaged in crazy hi-tech-inspired competition, it certainly made sense: art cars, Gumball Rally, flugtag, solar-powered races, robot wars, etc.

When I first heard about the show’s content, the image of a hot-rod brain was all I could think of. Then came all the fire, and silly collage heads on all the vehicles. For some reason, this also made perfect sense. It must’ve had something to do with growing up around muscle cars, and being exposed to Robert Williams wild-ride illustrations or Ed Roth’s Ratfink art.

Essentially, the design evolved into a frenetic free-for-all, characterized by a collage of content-specific imagery, all of which literally explodes across the screen in staccato animation and an abundance of fire.

Nerd Nation


BROADCAST: SHOW GRAPHICS PACKAGE
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / Lead Broadcast Designer
CLIENT: TechTV
ART DIRECTOR: Rick McKee

There’s a little nerd in all of us. That’s the gist of TechTV’s quirky-yet-cool documentary series. Episodes featured an eclectic mix of geekiness, from hacker conventions and India’s tech-support culture to Roswell gatherings and Star Trek fandom.

The design is derived from the concept of plurality, and how nerd-dom is a quality that exists in just about everyone, depending on one’s point of view. Visually, this is represented through a sea of ever-changing faces and cityscapes to symbolize nerd-ism’s cultural transcendence.

The execution proved extremely tedious, hand-animating a 1000-plus facial parts to morph in and out of each other. Then applying a complex filtering technique to achieve the grunged-up appearance of the final product.

You kind of have to be a nerd to be willing to do all of that.

Summer Identity


BROADCAST: NETWORK IDENTITY PROMOS
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / Lead Broadcast Designer
CLIENT: TechTV
ART DIRECTOR: Rick McKee

TechTV’s 2003 seasonal re-branding divided the network’s content into three categories: “Cool Docs,” “How-To,” and “Wacky Fun.”

At the time, the promos director had an inexplicable need to use circles. No particular reason, really. Just that he liked them. So circles it was … an entire landscape of them, with various TechTV personalities doing what they do best on those circles. Not very high-concept. But an opportunity to have a bit of creative play graphically.

Since the circle environments were fairly straightforward, the emphasis was placed on capturing the on-air talent in bursts of character and personality, while traveling through the landscape with dynamic and engaging motion.

Lots of greenscreen footage. Lots of tracking. And of course, lots of circles.

Unscrewed


BROADCAST: SHOW GRAPHICS PACKAGE
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / Lead Broadcast Designer
CLIENT: TechTV
ART DIRECTOR: Rick McKee

TechTV’s “Unscrewed” was a late-night talk show for the then-blossoming internet generation, covering the world wide web’s saucier side of cyberspace. Essentially, that boiled down to porn, aliens, and more porn.

When commissioned to design the show, not a single episode had aired. In fact, it hadn’t even taped, let alone been written, or even conceived beyond the vague definition of “talk show.” So the door was wide open, as far as what the visual content could be.

The one constant was host Martin Sargent, who’d been TechTV’s comic relief for a number of prior shows, ranging from “TechLive” to “Screensavers.”

Martin had taped himself monologuing about everything and nothing in particular, in an effort to help sell the show. This footage formed the basis for the show’s graphics package.

Necessity being the mother of invention, as well as a lack of time and budget, the result ended up being the nonsensical spoken-word piece you now see before you.

Anime Unleashed


BROADCAST: SHOW GRAPHICS PACKAGE
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / Lead Broadcast Designer
CLIENT: TechTV
ART DIRECTOR: Rick McKee

“Anime Unleashed” was TechTV’s nightly showcase for Japan’s edgiest and most relevant animated series of the era – aka 2002.

After lengthy debate and exploration, the design team arrived at the conclusion that anime’s uniqueness came from its duality of stillness and motion. Animation was sparse and simple, yet visceral and engaging. Color exploded across the screen, yet possessed a balance and appropriateness. And the most complex imagery of robotic mecha and futuristic vehicles could be communicated with still imagery translated across the screen.

Combine this with an homage to Luc Besson’s “Fifth Element,” as well as a bit of William Gibson, and the show’s graphic opener took shape: a hurtling freefall through a cel-styled futuristic city, bursting into a streaking tunnel filled with charging mecha, concluding on a cyberspace influenced logo resolve.

Secret, Strange & True


BROADCAST: SHOW OPEN
ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / Senior Broadcast Designer
CLIENT: TechTV
ART DIRECTOR: Rick McKee

An episode of “Secret, Strange, and True” once featured an exposé on the Pentagon, and how it was actually constructed as a giant satanic portal for evil to be channeled into the world. Whether that’s true or not is certainly up for debate. But it paints a pretty accurate portrait of what this TechTV documentary series aims to achieve. Sensational. Mysterious. Provocative. Outrageous. True (at least to certain parties).

Unexpectedly, the show open isn’t nearly as enticing as the content would suggest. But that’s a conscious choice. Rather than upstage the given show’s content, it seemed more appropriate to ground the visual design in some manner of artful legitimacy.

This translated to a typographical treatment, where each of the title’s three words is visually defined through abstractions of motion and color. “Secret” is red and caged like a mystery. “Strange” is green and amorphous. And “True” is blue and framed with geometrical structure.