The NFL Comes Alive
A show graphics package concept for Thursday Night Football that brings each NFL team to life in spell-binding, live-action fashion–leaving all exaggerated 3D logos behind.
During my time at the NFL, I brought in an idea to the table that I'd had long before, that would attempt to differentiate the NFL from every other sports network and supercharge the emotion surrounding team matchups. We were eagerly dialed in to how sports networks used team logos in their graphics packages and promos (i.e. NFL, ESPN, FOX, and CBS). All of them, rightfully lean very heavily on the team primary logos to promote upcoming matchups. It makes sense considering those team logos have MASSIVE amounts of equity.
Most of the sports networks' design approach was to make those 2D logos into glossy, pulsating 3D models chalk full of industrial materials and lightening effect to make them, well, a bit more exciting... and larger than life. With that, I thought, "How many more ways can you extrude a 2D logo into a 3D object?" They were ultra high production value, but somehow starting to get borderline cartoonish (albeit high production value).
Give fans the chills. Get away from primary logos and paint a much more emotional, immersive snapshot of each team's identity.
Inspiration came from watching some of HBO's best opening credit sequences as well as BBC's Planet Earth series–spellbinding, ultra high fidelity live action footage of natures beasts mixed with a charged narrative was goosebump-worthy. The result would be a dark, moody, dramatic use of photography and phantom 1000fps live action footage to bring each clubs logo/mascots to life. Hyper closeups, depth of field, reverent mid and wide "studio" shots to create environment. Imagine a TNF matchup with two heavy breathing monsters making eye contact with you.
32 Live Action Characters
What real-world characters embody each of the 32 teams, and how do we make them feel intense, competitive, and fierce?
This process required doing some serious style frames to nail down the new world and ensure some level of consistency across the league. The style frames were particularly important, as they help define the types of shots and level of detail I was after. The most fun we had was diving a bit deeper on each clubs history and origin story to understand the nuances of each team's nicknames/characters. Details like, what kind of bull is the Houston Texans logo built upon? Or what species of falcon is indigenous to Georgia? In addition, we had to piece puzzles together to better understand some of the less obvious team characters, such as Giants, Browns, Steelers, Chargers, Packers, Saints, etc. What is a Brown? An elf? A football player? An American Bulldog? Here are some of the style frames I developed early on.
There are many species of falcon. The Peregrine Falcon is abundant in the Atlanta area and happens to be the fastest animal in the world clocking more than 240 mph during a dive.
Baltimore's identity was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven". The raven, a talking bird species, is known as the crafty keeper of wisdom, prophecy and insight.
Not much left to the imagination with the Chicago Bears. Capturing the silence of a ferocious grizzly is just as haunting as the wrath of it's roar.
Making a riveting, vicious Bengal tiger is easy, so it's the nuances that count–such as closeups of the stripes (to emulate the helmet pattern) and of course, some salivation.
A diverse theme for the Browns includes a "hard-nosed football" mentality, the Dawg Pound characterized by a spike-collared American Bulldog, and their signature orange helmet and striping.
There are multiple horses in the NFL. So the Broncos own the "wild & untamed" horse characterization. A desirable bucking-horse exudes intensity and pure athleticism.
There are many species of bull. The Texans mark is specifically designed after a fierce Spanish Fighting Bull, which is known for it's 1500 lbs of strength, aggression and endurance.
Bighorn sheep are the epitome of strength with their mesmerizing, stout curled horn. The iconic 'clash' of a bighorn head butt is one of the most extraordinary events in the animal kingdom.
The Vikings express the Norseman as an edgy, rugged character somewhere between Ragnar (as per the TV series) and a more fantasy-based, Thor–along with their iconic warship (langskip).
The Giants go back to their inception with a colossal giant football player emerging from a stadium, backed by a secondary 'giant' analogy that refers to the skyscrapers of the NYC skyline.
Finally, the Jets become, well, a jet that has a symbiotic correlation to the game of football. A stealth, tactical fighter inspired by the US-designed F-22 Raptor.
The stoic and symbolic bald eagle stands as one of the most feared and capable predators on earth. It's archetypal beak, talons and massive wing span are unmistakeable.
Lean heavy on the blue collar nature of the U.S. Steel factory heyday of the 1930's and 1940's. The Steelers are rooted in hard-work. Fire, sparks, and flame. Toughness and grit.
We mashed up two distinct eras of the Bucs that include the dapper cavalier, "Bucco Bruce", the modern skull/cutlass flag, and finally the terrifying Brig warship.