Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Red Lobster Crab Fest: a Facebook infographic story

A few weeks ago GREY contacted me with a unique idea to create a Snow Crab 101 infographic for Red Lobster's Facebook page. Given the chance to illustrate the life of a snow crab and work with an amazing company such as GREY, I was fast to jump on the opportunity.

GREY sent me a word document rich with researched details and a rough idea to use as a starting point. They wanted a "how to eat" section to accompany the main art, and since the main usage of the piece was Facebook, a roughly 8 x 10 inch dimension was the target size.  Tight fit for the goals we wanted to achieve but a challenge I was looking forward to.

I sketched out a few fast layouts and chose to go with a sidebar for our how-to-eat information. We wanted to have a snow crab as our dominant main art, and I wanted it to tie-in with the main art so it didn't feel separate on the page. GREY was pretty open with layouts, so knowing this was a strong idea I immediately went into sketching a tight rough:

Shooting reference – a great excuse to steam up a few crabs:

Again, when working with clients who are getting constant feedback from their clients (in this case – Red Lobster), I feel the tight pencil roughs save a lot of time on production for all involved. This also gives everyone a piece of mind looking over the details while not leaving anything a surprise later in the game.

I had the opportunity to write the text, so I add the copy and their fonts during the rough sketch phase so the client can read through the sketch and see exactly what we want to show. They edit the copy while I work on the final renders and design tweaks, allowing the page to develop together smoothly.

As the illustrations come together, I switch the rwketches with new art and make any text edits that are noted. During this process we cut-cut-cut, to keep the layout from becoming too text heavy. Soon the piece is ready to go:

The final was published on Red Lobsters Facebook page very shortly after. It got a lot of traffic and customer conversation – a win-win for all who was involved.

A special thanks to the talented GREY New York creative team and Red Lobster for giving me the opportunity to eat snow crab and dive into this. You were an absolute pleasure to work with.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Posters for Tornado Alley

Have you ever looked at your vehicle and thought:

"I wonder if I could drive that into a tornado and survive"?

I have (yes I'm serious) although my thoughts are more fueled by curiosity then science. For Discovery's Storm Chasers star Sean Casey and the researchers of VORTEX2 it's a reality. Armed with a camera and research equipment, they drive customized vehicles into the heart a tornado in the IMAX film Tornado Alley. If you haven't seen it, I definitely recommend it.

When Big Screen Films contacted me with an opportunity to create an infographic poster for the feature, I jumped right on board! The idea was to diagram the two heavily modified research vehicles, highlighting their key features of science and survival. The kicker with these was I had an opportunity to see both vehicles in person, and meet their teams to answer my questions.

The first vehicle up was Sean Casey's Tornado Intercept Vehicle (TIV-2) – a vehicle modified to park inside a tornado and film with an IMAX camera. Armed with a camera and sketchbook, I met the team at The Museum of Natural History in Manhattan for a early screening of Film, spending some time climbing around the truck and talking to the crew.

Once the movie was over, driver and team crew member Marcus Gutierrez took me for a ride through NYC, which was definitely one of the highlights of the gig. Living here for almost 8 years, I know there are few things that turn the heads of New Yorkers, but people literally ran out of the road when this beast drove through. I'm not sure what rates they charge storm chasers for parking in the city:

A few days later I visited VORTEX 2s Doppler on Wheels (DOW) vehicle at the Liberty Space Center in Jersey City, NJ. The DOW 7 team was extremely helpful answering my questions and curiosities. 

After seeing both vehicles in person and taking hundreds of photos and notes, I immediately got to sketching our layout. The original plan was to put both vehicles in the same poster. I really wanted to have a few pop-out details along with my cutaways, to pull the viewer into the key features.

Since the TIV and DOW teams were doing the copy, I made room with dummy type to fill so they can work while I render the art. I find this is a tactic when the text is coming from an outside source, allowing the design and art to progress while giving others time to write. Its not an exact science, but in most cases there is usually only minor cutting and design adjustments at the end of the process. I feel the key to this being successful is having detailed rough drawings, so clients can see exactly what we want to show. The tighter rough will also save time with edits later in the process, since the experts will see if something is off early in the game. When this is noted I adjust my art as I work. Both teams did an excellent job with the text, making the information brief, yet adding details that are interesting to readers. 

Working on the final art. I always say, there's no such thing as too much reference:

As the pieces come together, I replace the rough sketches with the finals:

Andy Wood had the idea of illustrating our headline, which I dove right into. I think it definitely adds a nice touch to the piece:

 We also had the opportunity to break both trucks into separate posters, which made two nice options and aired out our layouts a bit.

And there you have it… Illustrating an IMAX movie poster. I've had a lot of cool gigs over the last ten years, but this one is definitely up near the top. A special thanks to Big Screen Film's producer Andy Wood and Director of Strategic Partnerships Deborah Raksany. They are an absolute pleasure to work with! I'd also like to thank the TIV2 crew – Sean Casey, Marcus Gutierrez and Brandon Ivey and VORTEX2 DOW team for showing me the vehicles and putting up with my infographics nerd questions.