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.

TechLive


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

The signal heard round the (virtual) world. That’s the concept behind this dynamic show open for TechTV’s nightly news magazine. The premise centers on the motif that everything is digital, with information comprised of bits and bytes, shuttled around instantly at all times. And the only barrier being bandwidth.

Particularly tricky was designing the show open’s mid-section accordion segment, a content area that could expand and contract time-wise, based on the given evening’s teaser footage. As the open was designed to be a seamless flow of information, when the graphic elements halt to focus on the evening’s content, the momentum still needed to be present. The solution, surprisingly, was a straight cut, bridging the gap between inserted content and the lead-in to the logo resolve.

The “TechLive” open was awarded the BDA Bronze in the category for News Programming In-House Open.

The Tech of:


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

This remarkably in-depth TechTV documentary of “how things work” focused on just about everything: newspapers, oil tankers, high-rise demolition, football strategies, bridges, ice breakers, paper clips, etc.

For the show’s on-air design, the visual concept was based on the digital analysis of the everyday world. In this case, a building, a car, a newspaper, and a train. Oil tankers and ice breakers were tempting, but none were immediately accessible for filming. And although the paper clip would’ve been classic, it just didn’t have the immediacy we were looking for.

My clearest memory was shooting without permits in Oakland’s BART station. It was a year after 9/11. Tensions were still high. We were almost arrested. Luckily, our producer knew how to run interference.

CES Today


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

Back in 2001, the annual Consumer Electronics Show was the ultimate tech-fetish fest for the latest and greatest offerings of gear and gadgets. It was also considered one of TechTV’s major newsworthy events.

TechTV on-air personalities provided extensive floor coverage of the convention, offering exclusive in-depth interviews with developers and CEO’s, as well as awarding “best-of” accolades for all the show-stopping services and products.

For the concept and visual design, the process started with a barcode, a piece of printed technology branded on every consumer product. Through a freeform exploration of image and motion, the barcode was extrapolated ultimately into the show’s identity and branding.

Consequently, this resulted more in playful eye-candy than high-concept metaphor. But given that it’s basically a news magazine one-off, that proved to be completely appropriate.