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Ever wonder who's behind those cool identity graphics on broadcast and cable TV networks? Come take a peek behind the scenes at Troika Design Group, the leading firm for branding television networks. The members of the exceptionally creative team at Troika explain how they go about creating unique and dynamic on-air brand identities for some of the biggest networks in the world, including ABC, FOX, Oxygen, and ESPN. They show how the company organizes projects, develops its team members, and nurtures a highly collaborative and creative environment. Troika's employees show their creative solutions and tell the stories behind the work. The company begins with a deep understanding of the client's needs, and develops solutions that may include live action elements and a whole range of graphic animation techniques. This installment of Creative Inspirations takes viewers to the very epicenter of TV network branding.
Dan Pappalardo: We are paid for process here more than an end product. The client doesn't know what the end product does, we don't know what the end product, as a matter of fact if we did, I don't know what -- this would be a waste of time. So really they pay us for a process of trying to understand what their needs are and what they are trying to achieve, what they want to communicate to their audience. And we go through steps to understand that and gain a better understanding and start to take all of the possibilities of what this can be and get closer and closer and closer to the answer.
So at the end of it, really the magic is, at end of the project everyone goes, Oh! That should be exactly where we wanted to land. I wish we would have known it in the beginning and it almost seems like a no brainer that that's where we were going to end up. When you sit there and you have a blank page in front of you and someone says, come up with the greatest idea that solve this problem. It's always as scary as hell. So how do you make that manageable? You make it manageable by carving it into more smaller segments that are segments that aren't giant hurdles.
They're ones that you go, Oh! Yeah! I can solve that. So the very first thing to do is make sure that you are casting in that, that is the right net and that right net is -- make sure you get all the obvious things. Don't employ the obvious ones, there is really good stuff in the obvious solutions, but cast it out where you are staring to get those things and that are on the fringes like, Oh! That would be an interesting kind of place to play. And then the net should go just a little bit further to the place where you go, "I think that's too far." And that's what you want. You want to have the net cast far enough, so that you know where the edges of the possibility are. In that world we start folding into the production phase and the design phase is conceptual. It's all about ideas, it's about solving problems, it's about the raw communication. Then once you get into the detailed design and the animation phase, you are into a bit of the art of the mediums.
How does that move exactly? What is that color exactly? So it's this idea of carving a larger effort into these littler pieces that you can sink your teeth in, really understand if you are comfortable solving. Then over through the course of the process, you are eating away at solving the problems. So it's really taking these bigger efforts, chopping them down into something manageable and always focusing on that end result.
Heather Kim: I think it's very beneficial for both the client and the creative team because the creative team is learning as these small steps are being taken. The further they step, the more convincing it seems, the more that they are convinced that their ideas are making sense. And they are kind of feeding it back and forth between the client and themselves and they are learning more about the client. They are learning more about what they actually need.
So the artist learn through the process, communicating with the client and having-- starting to be really convinced that their concept is something that they can stand by. By the end of the process, everything makes more sense now. We can really stand by our ideas and say that we did this because we had a very solid reason for doing so. Dan Pappalardo: Yeah, I am most excited when an assignment -- I understand what we are trying to achieve, but I have no idea what the answer is and those are exciting to me because that tells me that there is the potential to do something new.
I think it's really important for designers to look for that. Look for that unknown area and get enough of an understanding of what you are trying to do but when you are riding that wave of like you are kind of nervous, you are worried about like -- is this really any good? You are in a much better place than when you are looking at something you are doing and you are going, "Oh! That must be great. I have seen it. I know that's great, because it's what I have seen other people do." That's not really fun to me. Those projects, I don't really enjoy at all. I like the ones where we are all kind of looking at each other and going, is this good? Like I am not sure if this is even working or not, or if this is too out of the box for us or for the client.
Heather Kim: From a designer's point of view, too, the processes are so important and so helpful because, as I said before, a designer, all artists, I think, are basically very insecure. Very insecure and it's all about making sure by the end of the day that they feel that they have accomplished something and it's very hard at the beginning of the project. You are making something out of nothing, basically. So you are looking for inspiration, you are looking for anything that will help you get the idea across and achieve something. The process really helps you get over that intimidation. So, you are looking through the process, you know that these processes have been tested before and they will help you get over the hurdles. And so knowing that, okay, if I do this, I can get over this spot, it's going to help me as a measuring stick to make sure my concepts are sound, my designs are kind of proofed. All of these reasons and concepts and briefs and the processes that we go through are very helpful for a designer to actually achieve the end result in a way that they feel happy with it at the end.
Dan Pappalardo: And it is, it's about breaking up a creative challenge into more manageable pieces and if you are just focused on the end result, it's really hard to get anything done. It's again, the giant white page, where the heck do I start? But if you are more worried about achieving a smaller goal, a more manageable goal, then the designers aren't sitting there freaking out about, Oh! My God, how I am going to create this award-winning piece? It's like I don't have to worry about that right now. I have to worry about casting the net and if I cast the right net and that kind of thing.
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