Thursday, September 20, 2007

Formal Proposal

For my project, I plan to create a short motion graphic (approximately 15-20 seconds) with the appearance of a television opening theme, starring my friends and myself. I am basing the idea off of the open of the now-cancelled program Arrested Development, using their general format and certain elements of their style, while making several stylistic changes so that the project is personal, and not just an element-for-element recreation of the already-existing piece

The project (and, consequently, the “television show”) is going to be titled “The School of Hard Rock. The concept driving the piece will be that my friends and I, a group of poor college students who are all very musically inclined, have found out about an American-Idol-type national contest with a large monetary payout as the grand prize. Thinking that we can take over the world with our talents, we come up with a grand scheme to win the contest, become rich, and solve all of our problems.

The graphic itself will be broken into 13 separate stages, each smoothly transitioning into the next, as in the original. Pacing will be key. The graphic will open on a group photo (there will be 9 people in the piece). This will transition into an image of a poster advertising the contest we wish to enter, with a highlight of some sort on the “big payout”. The graphic will then transition between images of each of the 9 people involved. Each person will be named, and have a tag of what their “role” in the show would be (vocals, guitar, manager, etc.). During this part, the most obvious use of the style of Arrested Development’s open will be used – I plan to involve their use of arrows, and the jumping frames of each person, rather than smooth video. This, stylistically, is what caught my eye about their open in the first place, and seeing as I wanted to develop my skills in After Effects during my senior year, I felt strongly about experimenting with this style on my own as a way of enhancing my portfolio. After the last person, it will transition to a logo I will create using the title, and some sort of end credit.
I have come up with a voice-over to contribute to the pacing and add to the narrative of the piece, along with music I hope to create throughout the semester. Over top of the graphic, the narrator will state, “This is the story of a group of poor college kids, and the national contest they thought would solve all of their problems. It’s The School of Hard Rock.” This immediately gives the audience an idea of what they are watching, and were this an actual TV show, they would know what the premise of the upcoming program was.

My target audience, specifically, is potential future employers, as I am looking to improve my portfolio with this piece. However, I don’t think there is a group of people the piece would be limited to in terms of entertainment value. While it will be short, as long as I complete the piece with the high production quality I am planning on, most audiences should be able to appreciate the graphics and the humor of the content of my project.

In planning this project, the list of resources I need available to me is fairly significant. Early on in the project, I will need access to a video camera, tripod, and potentially the lighting kit from the art department, to ensure the lighting and production values for the captured footage in my piece are excellent. My own digital camera will suffice for still imagery. Once finished with filming, the shift to the software side of production will be fairly easy. I have access to After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator on my own computer, and can access Final Cut Pro in Holman as necessary. Being able to work from home, for the most part, should make working on this project much easier than previous work I have done.

On the creative side, I have a pretty clear vision of what I want my final product to look like. I have my inspiration from the Arrested Development piece, and want to use those ideas to develop my own style in that vein. I’m putting a high priority on pacing and keeping the flow of the piece light-hearted and fun. The same goes for the coloring and general look and feel. I want the whole project to have a sense of humor about it, and to be entertaining and fun in the style that comes out of it. I’m also keeping current trends in motion graphics and broadcast design in mind as I am designing and planning the layout of the piece. In researching existing television opening sequences outside of Arrested Development, I came across a variety of methods of doing things. Many rely mostly graphics. Arrested Development’s is mostly in this format; House and The X-Files were other good examples. Others relied on footage of the actors and/or the show itself, for instance Firefly or The Office. I found several that were very well done that relied solely on imagery that was tied in to the show in some way. One very good example of this style is Law and Order SVU. They use footage of New York City and crime scene photography, blended with cast photos, to successfully put viewers in the correct mindset for the program.

In viewing each of these opening sequences, a couple of common things struck me as being important to the success of the open. Perhaps most important was the pacing, and along with that, the music. The themes I viewed ranged in time frame from 12 seconds to a minute, but each piece felt correct in the amount of time it filled. Other themes I viewed felt overly dragged out, or too concise. The best themes fit their music perfectly and felt like they were a good length – not rushed, but not too lengthy either. Another important element I found to be common among many of the best opening sequences I viewed was setting a mood with a consistent style or “look”. Whether this was through a certain editing style, color scheme, or even the use of certain graphic or font elements, each open set the tone for the show with the pacing and the style of its brief opening sequence. Although I’m not actually producing a television show, I think it is important for me to be consistent with these ideas so the piece looks professional when I am showing it to future employers.

However, it will also be important to develop a style that is unique and eye-catching that makes this project stand out. While taking into account the techniques and styles out there today, I want to make sure I don’t create a cookie-cutter piece. I want to use the ideas that I’ve picked out of these other, already existing works, to put together my own creative work despite potentially borrowing ideas from others. I think my driving concept and some of the stylistic ideas I have will help me to achieve this.

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