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For Font’s Sake: Choosing a Font That Works for Your Show

Fonts matter. Don’t believe me? Imagine, for a moment, the word “graveyard” written in cartoony bubble letters. It’s perplexing (and a pretty inappropriate attempt at levity, you might say). Likewise, imagine the word “family” written in a bloody, dripping font – unless you’re Norman Bates and running a motel with your mother – it’s just not going to fly. The lesson: words speak, but fonts speak, too – sometimes even louder.

So, how do you know if you’re choosing the correct font for your show? Out of the – no joke – infinite number of fonts you have to pick from, which is the right one? More importantly, which is the wrong one? There’s a certain amount of personal taste to be considered, for sure, but, like all good design decisions, the font must work for your show on a few different levels. So, hop on board and let’s get this article on the way – to an exciting new fontier! (this is only the beginning of the puns, so please hold all cringes until the end).

Firstly, your font must reflect the spirit of your show. Take, for example, the font chosen for Flip or Flop, which uses bold text with a sharp outline; look closely and you’ll notice that the font has a subtle slant, reminiscent of the Fast & The Furious franchise. From this font alone, the audience can expect a fun, energetic show about the exciting (and sometimes risky) housing market. Contrast that to the House Hunters font and you’ll see that they used sleeker, more refined letters – showing a sense of authority, communicating that you might just learn a thing or two from this show.

You’ll also want to consider a font that will become recognizable with your show – something the audience will never fontget. Think of Game of Thrones; if you saw an ad for milk using the GOT font, you’d automatically assume that the welcoming glass of milk was actually an attempt to poison you in order to usurp the – well, we don’t want to give it away.

On top of all that, your font needs to work well for a variety of purposes: will your font be used for your title animation? How about infographics? Does it look good as a stand-alone logo or bug? How easily can it be animated?

When we designed the titles and graphics for Salvage Kings, we knew that the font would have to satisfy all these different elements. It needed to look like the kind of font that isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty, but also be legible when used for things like lower thirds.

It’s a fine balance to achieve, and if you pick the right one, it can really unify your graphics (no pressure, though).

A few basic font dos and don’ts:

In a universe where there are as many stars as there are fonts, it may seem like a daunting task to pick just one. But, pick one, you must. The fate of your show hangs in the balance.

Fear not, though, for you just finished reading a little article about fonts, so, you should be all good. Plus, we’re always around if you need us. And may the font be with you (you can cringe now).

Don’t Let Your Series Graphics Be An Afterthought

Having owned and operated a graphics studio for several years now, I’ve had the great fortune to work on dozens of projects, creating unique and diverse designs for amongst many things, broadcast graphic packs, motion graphics, and 2D/3D animations.

Through developing these diverse creatives, our team at Radical Point Media has learned ways to elevate these visual storytelling elements for our clients, using graphics creatively and efficiently.  Now we want to share what we’ve learned.

Over the next several articles and case studies that Radical Point Media is rolling out we hope to inform and inspire our audience about how a graphics studio works — and how to best work with one to achieve success.

To kick things off, here’s the most relevant piece of information gleaned from our experiences thus far… Don’t let your show graphics be an afterthought!

The TV industry is competitive these days…maybe more than it’s ever been. Network mandates are stalled and commissions are fewer, leaving legacy production companies and independent producers fighting for the same piece of a small pie. Even if you’re lucky enough to get a green light, there’s so much content out there that it’s tough to get viewers to watch the show you and your team have just poured all your energies into.

From a graphic studio owner’s POV, here’s some advice that may give your production an edge…

An excellent way to garner stronger audience retention is with a fully realized graphic package – one that not only brands a series with the usual elements (titles, lower thirds, bugs, banners, etc.) but goes further by integrating graphic devices that bolster storytelling and create a cohesiveness that connects each episode to the entire series.

That’s right. Standing out demands a strategic approach that aligns all elements of productions, including graphics, to captivate audiences, brand your show, and ensure sustained engagement. So, it’s best for production companies and graphics teams to start their collaboration early on.

Unfortunately, this rarely happens.

The reality is that by the time most graphic studios receive a call from a studio, network, or production company, the creative decks and associated graphics’ budgets are typically locked. This means that trained graphic designers are forced to ‘retrofit’ and ‘accommodate’ rather than being able to stretch their true creative muscle and offer their expertise from the outset.

But know this: graphics don’t need to be an afterthought.

Take for example HGTV’s renovation series, Buy It Or Build It, produced by @JVProductions (JV). The initial paper pitch garnered JV some funding for a pilot presentation, but there was a stumbling block they had to overcome to be considered for a coveted series order.

The premise for the pitch saw twin home-builders Chris and Calvin LaMont, helping homeowners decide if they should renovate an existing house, or buy an empty lot and build new – ensuring that they got everything they wanted. The network loved the talent and the creative premise (hook), but, there was a problem.  For a show concept built around authentic storytelling and the suspense of waiting to see which house the homeowners will choose, both home tour segments had to be equally balanced with visual interest and an equal narrative weight of the home buyer’s decision-making process.

But how can a tour of an empty builder’s lot ever compare with a tour of a real house with walls, doors, and little quips from the hosts about the outdated wallpaper?

Somehow, the empty lot tour had to be visualized as authentically as the real house tours.

To solve this issue, RPM was brought in early to work with JV’s development team, and came up with a creative strategy and sample animation that would ultimately help save the day.

We created a realistic, 3D, true-to-scale house model for the ’empty lot’ tour and digitally tracked that into live-action location footage. Essentially, we built a virtual house on the empty lot footage, bringing the scene to life.

We then placed the hosts and the homeowners into that 3D house animation, allowing them to walk around, show things off, and marvel at the size of that brand-new kitchen (which, at that point, didn’t even exist). This gave the homebuyers touring the property, something to which they could both react and comment on.

Now that was cool.  But we felt the show needed one more truly innovative graphic element to help push this series over the top.

We suggested JV’s production team shoot aerial footage of the hosts touring the homeowners across the empty lot using a drone camera. We then rotoscoped that footage and composited the subjects into a scaled 3D floor plan of the property. The audience could now watch them tour from room to room, giving the viewer a clear understanding of the house’s layout. The home tours were now visually and narratively balanced.

With competition for commissions being as they are, JV’s Buy It or Build It was pitted against two competing projects for only one available series’ greenlight.  And guess what helped the production company win out and get a series order? In large part, it was RPM’s creative use of 3D animation as a unique storytelling device on that empty lot tour – bringing the LaMonts’ vision, and JV’s series to life!

“While at HGTV, we were constantly looking for ways to re-invent and invigorate home renovation series. JV Productions created Buy It Or Build It using Radical Point Media’s (RPM) cutting-edge, innovative technology that mixed live action with 3D animation. That just blew us away. Combined with outstanding talent, it helped elevate JV’s pitch above many comparable concepts and gained them a straight-to-series order – which at the time was extremely rare. RPM knows how to elevate graphics from ordinary to extraordinary!” Robert Wimbish, former HGTV production executive

If that wasn’t enough to make our Radical Point about how strategically developed graphics can elevate your show, consider this dilemma…

@GoButtonMedia, a Toronto-based production company, invited us to collaborate on a project that carried an exciting challenge. They’d recently developed a science-based concept titled, Phantom Signals, which had significant interest from several international buyers. The formatted series would delve into mysterious stories about invisible phenomena that affect us physically. While the concept held an air of intrigue on paper, GBM was faced with a challenge.

How do you show things that can’t be seen?

GBM’s potential buyers wanted assurance that these esoteric stories could be visualized in an engaging way.  They were worried that the audience might ‘ghost’ the series if the visuals were too explanatory; and, yet they couldn’t be ambiguous, either. There was a fine line to be drawn, and we were tasked to find it.

Though GBM has some of the best directors and cinematographers in the industry, they understood that our experience and knowledge of computer-generated graphics (CG) could provide a POV that they may not have been able to imagine.

Over morning coffees, we read scripts and director’s notes, watched interviews and raw footage, and researched the topics being featured in each mystifying story. Through this process, we generated a base of reusable CG assets that became a sort of shorthand for characterizing common scientific elements that could be employed across the series.

The final graphics package of text hits, models, VFX and in-show explainer animations was designed to both:  a)  brand the series,  and b) visually articulate the storylines in a way that would resonate with a global audience.

The series went on to be featured on several international broadcast and streaming platforms – underscoring the power of graphic design in shaping viewers’ experiences.

These examples highlight a pivotal lesson: graphics shouldn’t be an afterthought. Graphics and animation possess the potential to be narrative catalysts, enriching stories, and forging deeper connections with viewers.

As Radical Point Media’s journey has revealed, the key to unlocking this potential lies in early collaboration, where graphic artists work hand-in-hand with creators, becoming architects of visual storytelling.

In the articles and case studies to come, Radical Point Media aims to demystify this symbiotic relationship between storytelling and graphics.

Through shared insights, we aim to empower producers, creatives, and visionaries to harness the full force of graphics in their pursuit of creating captivating and unforgettable content.

The era of underestimating show graphics is over.  Embrace them as narrative companions, and watch your vision come to life!

This Article Needs a Good Title, So Does Your Show

With so many shows to choose from, why would I choose yours?

Of course, you could pitch your show to me by cutting together a pithy little teaser to catch my attention – but, as a warning, my attention is flighty at best. If a fly buzzes by, I’m gone. So sorry. You’re going to have to be faster than that if you want to make an impact. In fact, kudos to you for making it this far into the article – many people are probably chasing that fly already. So, how do you overcome the perils of our average 8.25 second attention span? Well, here’s the short answer: Opening Title Animations.

The majority of us are visual learners. We like graphics; we love them, and here at Radical Point Media we live them.   Every opening title or logo that we see communicates so much more to us than just the words and imagery on the screen. By carefully designing a title graphic that reflects the essence of your show, you can make a strong “pitch” to your audience and pull them in before that fly even has a chance to buzz.

Just ask Robert Wimbish of Marcus Entertainment, who said,

“…having imagery and visuals at the top of a series that says ‘Hey, check this out’ – this show is going to be different, cool, or impactful based solely on the graphic image, are extremely important in establishing the series’ brand and tone. This enables you to hook the audience right away and extend their willingness to continue to engage with the content.”

Take, for example, the somewhat simple logo for HGTV’s mega-hit show Property Brothers. Many home renovation shows have a house icon built into the logo somewhere – it’s sort of the go-to for the home design and home reno genre. But, this logo is more subtle: you see the word “Property” over a big block with the word “Brothers” inside of it. Already, the logo establishes that this show is not just about properties, but properties built on top of a strong foundation  – the relationship between the two brothers, who are, quite literally, elevating the houses. Clever.

HGTV’s other smash hit, Home Town is another great example of the power of subtle design; the font; the color palette; the imperfect edges, all work perfectly. Even if the words were gibberish, and read: “Glorbenmux”, you’d still know that the show is about hand-made country designs, simply from the iconography.

Okay, so, subtle title logos are cool and are hugely important when it comes to first impressions, but, what about something bigger? Bolder? More bodacious?

I’d love to draw your attention, if I may, to the opening titles Radical Point Media designed for the Science Channels’ docu-series, Secret Nazi Bases. It’s epic. Created completely in CGI, it opens with the camera moving through a dimly lit warehouse filled with mysterious artifacts – oh my, what are those? – all against the backdrop of vintage archival footage from WWII. Before we can piece together a full view of the warehouse, two huge metal doors slam closed, shutting us out. As the doors lock, the title, in thick stone letters, comes crashing onto the screen. It’s intriguing, creating a sense of mystery, exclusivity and urgency. Most importantly, however, it tells a story– there are precious secrets behind this door and this show is about to unlock them for you – so stay tuned!

Now, you don’t have to go full CGI to be epic.

Sometimes, a show calls for a mix of mediums. Just take a look at the opening title animation for HGTV’s property show, Buy It or Build It, which centers around two self-made brothers helping people find their perfect property in Dallas, TX. Originally, RPM was tasked with creating a simple show logo. The animated reveal was to be a maximum of five seconds, thus saving precious show time. However, once we saw some early footage, we were inspired by the brothers’ story and saw an opportunity to showcase their journey to the big (little) screen.

We felt this condensed life story would grab viewers’ interest and emotionally hook them into the show. We convinced the network execs this would be time well spent, and that five second logo reveal turned into a twenty second opening title sequence animation. Utilizing both 3D and 2D tools, we told the brothers’ story in a captivating and fun vintage, pop-up book style, which not only introduced the audience to the brothers quickly, but also cemented the show aesthetically, thematically, and unified the graphics – can you say brand recognition?

The moral of this story is that there are many ways to approach the opening title for your show.

Whether you’re looking for a big, bombastic opening animation, or a simple show logo, it should be able to capture the essence of your series and quickly stamp it into the minds of your audience to keep them coming back. In other words: it should be able to swat a fly.

Beyond the Frame: Dispelling Common Misconceptions About Animation Pricing

At Radical Point Media, we breathe life into stories.

Animation’s our passion, and we love translating ideas into visuals that engage, inspire, and resonate with audiences.

But let’s face it, the question of cost can often feel like a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

Today, we want to bust some common myths about animation pricing, specifically the notion that 2D automatically equals cheaper.

Myth #1: 2D Animation is Budget-Friendly, 3D is Expensive

While 2D animation can be a cost-effective option for certain projects, it’s not an automatic guarantee of lower costs. The complexity of your project, the desired style, and the level of detail all play a significant role in determining the final price. In fact, intricate 2D animation with sophisticated effects and character designs can easily rival the costs of 3D projects.

Myth #2: It’s Just Drawing, How Hard Can It Be?

Animation is an art form, and it’s far more than just drawing. Skilled animators spend years honing their craft, mastering storytelling techniques, movement principles, and design sensibilities. Each frame, whether 2D or 3D, requires meticulous attention to detail, ensuring smooth transitions and believable characters. Underestimating the expertise and time involved can lead to unrealistic budget and time expectations.

Myth #3: Price is the One and Only Factor

While cost is important, focusing solely on the lowest price can be detrimental to a project. Experience, expertise, and portfolio quality are crucial factors that shouldn’t be overlooked. A seasoned team with a proven track record might charge more, but their ability to deliver the highest quality work and avoid costly revisions can save you money and time in the long run.

Myth #4: Animation is Easy to Change Later

Animation is a collaborative process, and effective communication is key to avoiding costly surprises. While initial discussions set the foundation for pricing, be prepared for additional costs associated with significant changes requested later in the production cycle.

Myth #5: All Animation Studios Are the Same

Every animation studio has its own style, strengths, and experience level. Researching different studios, understanding their portfolios, and aligning your project with their expertise are crucial for finding the best fit. Be open about what factors are most important to you in choosing an animation partner.

Radical Point Media: Transparency & Collaboration

At RPM, we believe in open communication and transparent pricing and value partners and clients who do the same.  We break down the various components of your project, providing detailed estimates and explaining the factors that influence the cost.

We encourage open dialogue throughout the process, ensuring your vision is translated accurately while managing expectations and potential changes.

Investing in animation is investing in bringing your vision to life. By understanding the value of skilled professionals, the complexities of the craft, and the importance of collaboration, you can make informed decisions and embark on a successful animation journey.

Let Radical Point Media guide you through the animation landscape, transforming your ideas into unforgettable experiences.

Remember, we’re not just drawing pixels, we’re painting emotions. Let’s collaborate to create something truly remarkable.

How VFX Can Affect Your Show to Greater Effect

Let’s be honest, for once, shall we? Can your T.V. show have big-budget Hollywood VFX? Is there a difference between VFX and CGI? Is planning out your VFX before starting production necessary? Does tossing a penny in a fountain grant wishes? The answer to all these questions is: yes!

First, before we get jumbled, let’s be clear about definitions. VFX (visual effects) are visual elements created in post-production to enhance or, at times, completely replace the live-action footage that was captured during production. For example, in principal photography, an actor gives a stirring speech to a green screen. Problem: the dispassionate screen appears unmoved by the actor’s gusto – this is where VFX comes in, removing the green screen and replacing it with a crowd of enthusiastic acrobats (because this imaginary movie is about a small-town hero who saves a struggling circus, or something). Suddenly, the whole scene has been brought to life, and our hero’s moving speech has context. The VFX utilized to achieve this include rotoscoping (to place our hero in the scene), motion capture (to match the camera move), and CGI (to build the circus tent surrounding them). All of these tools are under the umbrella of VFX – and learning how to use them is the best way to take your show to the next level.

So, if you want your show’s VFX to shine like a million-dollar blockbuster, it’s good practice to learn the ‘ins and outs’ of the most used, fastest-evolving storytelling tool out there. Buckle up, here we go…

For VFX to look their best, it’s always prudent to bring a VFX supervisor on set. They will ensure that the necessary details (lighting, textures, reference photos, camera lenses, etc.) are recorded so that when it comes time to create the new visual elements in CGI, all of the models will match the live-action footage perfectly. However, we know that due to the tight budgets we all face these days, this luxury isn’t always possible.

One of our favourite VFX projects we were brought in to work on was a multi-part documentary series produced by VICE Media.  Mister Tachyon, created and directed by Director X, was an innovative series that explored ideas that exist on the fringe of science. And, to align its visual aesthetic with the show content, it was hosted by an invisible lead character, Mister Tachyon. Yes, an invisible host!

By the time RPM started our work on this project, production had already wrapped. Turning Mister Tachyon invisible, normally, would have been straightforward if we received some back plates (empty shots that show the background of the scene so that anything in the foreground can be easily removed, or, ‘made’ invisible). Alas, we were plateless. Despite this, RPM was still able to match the lighting and materials needed to erase the actor’s head and hands from the footage. But how? Well, we used a few tricks, including pulling background plates from unused footage and recreating CGI sleeves and shirt collars, which were then mapped back onto the actor’s movements. It’s an incredible amount of intricate work that goes unseen in the end – but that’s the point when turning someone invisible.

On the topic of Mister Tachyon, our work didn’t just end with turning him invisible. We also tackled the intro sequence, which involved Tachyon performing experiments on himself in his laboratory – we had to visualize the moment he turned invisible. So, how do you visualize something that doesn’t exist visually? We started by mapping the actor’s circulatory system onto his body so that his veins would glow and pulse as the invisibility serum took effect. This required matching not only the camera move but the actor’s movements as well. Next, to sell the moment he turned invisible, we recreated a pair of prop glasses from set in CGI, so that when we erased Tachyon’s head, the glasses would still be there, floating on his invisible face. Now, why a person isn’t blinded by light once their retinas are invisible is a wonderful question – but not ours to answer. Moving right along…

RPM faced a similar dilemma when we created the opening shot for a JV Productions project, Silk Roads. We were provided with a wide overhead drone shot of a road winding through a complex mountain range in the Middle East. It was a beautiful shot, however, the director needed the shot to swoop down to ground level, track along the road, and reveal an ancient village (which didn’t exist until we built that in CGI. But that’s another story). To achieve this shot, we mapped the original drone footage onto a 3D model of a mountain range that we created using said footage. Once that new model was built, perfectly matching the original shot, we were able to recreate the camera movement so that instead of simply passing by overhead, it dipped down into the valley and revealed the village. The transition from real footage into the fully CGI shot was seamless. The cherry on top was when we utilized greenscreen to put the real host of the show into the middle of the CGI village so that they could walk around amongst the mountains and shacks – as opposed to simply cutting back to the host in studio. See, wishes do come true – as long as the penny goes into the right fountain.

It’s no secret that VFX technology is moving at lightspeed. Techniques that used to take thousands of hours and cost thousands of dollars can now be done on your phone for free in seconds. However, those VFX are like mass-produced greeting cards – they’re all the same and they lack the personality of your unique project. For your show, to tell your specific story, you need tailored VFX designed to work perfectly with your footage and match the aesthetic of your series.

For another example, RPM worked on a history series called Secret Nazi Bases. Naturally, the CGI models we built had to be historically accurate (translation: custom-made). Not only that, but we had to ‘track’ real footage from production so we could seamlessly place our 3D models into the war action, again, accurately matching lighting and camera movement to ensure that our CGI integration into the scene looked real. To blend the VFX in more, we also treated some of the footage to make it appear as archival film as if it were recorded in the 1940s.

With a dash of RPM ingenuity and creative thinking, polished VFX are not only affordable but can be used to elevate your story and pull your audience into the world you envisioned. It can break down budgetary boundaries and expand the scope of your project, whether that’s seeing a fire-breathing dragonfly through the sky, turning someone invisible, or changing a drone shot to go down this neighbourhood instead of that one, VFX is the tool you need to have in your back pocket. Luckily, it doesn’t take up a lot of room – it’s only three letters. 

2D or Not 2D? That is the (Common) Question

In the wide world of television production, the use of in-show graphics or episodic explainers has become increasingly popular.  Why is that? Obviously, graphics add style and flair to a show, but when you’re trying to tell a story about the realities of decision making during a home renovation in a span of an hour or less, you need the viewer to understand what they’re seeing, otherwise, they’ll look elsewhere, to a much clearer and enjoyable show. So before we fire up the latest Adobe app, the conversation inevitably ends with: 2D or 3D?

Does it matter? Unless you want to roll out the blueprints or do a video speed run through the house, it does. I assume you know the dimensions of space, so we won’t bore (patronize) you there. In this instance, detailed 2D graphics, often the domain of illustrators, come to life on television through the use of the ubiquitous write-on technique. The entire scene is drawn, and then the “after effects” are reverse engineered to appear as if they are being created from a blank sheet of digital paper on the screen. This technique can allow for a visually clear and detailed presentation of the renovation process, like on HGTV’s No Demo Reno.

On the other hand, spacious 3D graphics (also known as not 2D) offer a semi-virtual view of the design at hand and all of its angles. This technique provides the closest experience to actually witnessing the renovation in a live action Sorcerer’s Apprentice kind of way, like seeing chairs and plants sliding and spinning into place, cabinets jumping through walls, and backsplash tiles delicately and quickly placing themselves one by one. The subtle lighting and details can be indistinguishable from reality(except for the flying objects), like HGTV’s Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge, making the graphics for the titular abode look as if they were made of plastic.  

Not to complicate matters, but just as 2D illustrations can be rendered by hand in immaculate detail to generally mimic the real world, 3D graphics can also be rendered in a nonphotorealistic (NPR) style that looks like they are hand drawn, like A&E’s 24 Hour Flip. You get all of the depth and animation of a 3D world with more flat, organic texture. Also, because photorealistic 3D could spoil the real reveal, putting some creative distance between CGI and video could keep the audience from feeling like they’re experiencing deja vu. 

When it comes to roads to take in animation technique, the 2.5D “compromise” between 2D and 3D is generally “the one…less traveled,” but like Robert Frost said, “[it can make] all the difference.” Not because it’s better or easier, but because there’s this technovisual experience not quite like cel animation but more so between flat and spacious: there’s untapped interdimensional potential there! This can most commonly be thought of as a cardboard cutout or a popup book, like the maps for HGTV’s Buy It or Build It.

Creating in-show graphics can require significant effort, whether it’s photorealistic drawing or rendering, animated write-ons or Mograph build-ons. While 2D graphics offer a potentially clearer approach, 3D graphics provide a visually stunning experience that brings the renovation process to life, and the 2.5D technique can offer a unique visual aesthetic. Ultimately, the choice between dimensions in graphics matters because the show’s tone, brand and viewership depend on it.

2D, 2.5D or 3D? That is the question. 

Radical Point Media can help you find the answer.

Your Animations Need an Attitude Adjustment

Hey, nice animation style you’ve chosen. Seriously, it looks great. One problem though: now that you know how it’s going to look, do you know how it’s going to move? Are the objects on screen going to rise up from the floor? Plop into place? Spin into position? Dissolve into a predetermined and aesthetically pleasing configuration? When talking about how objects should animate onto the screen, the possibilities are endless. Giving the movement some character is a great way to solidify your show’s unique flavour – if you choose correctly. What we’re saying is: a little attitude can go a long way – as long as it’s appropriate.

At the risk of sounding like John Lithgow in Footloose, not all animations need to move with attitude. It should match the style of your show, or else the animations will disrupt the groovy flow of the episode and confuse your audience – maybe even cause them to abandon the show completely and dance out their frustrations in an abandoned warehouse (here ends the Footloose references)

Take, for example, the 3D room animations in the series, Home Town. The camera moves fluidly through the 3D models as the old rooms dissolve away and the new elements fade in, taking their place. Chairs don’t drop in from the ceiling like there’s a poltergeist; couches don’t pop up from the floor like they’re spring-loaded. It’s a very calm approach to the movement of the animation – matching the show’s laidback country vibe.

But, just because there’s no movement doesn’t mean that it can’t be exciting! The animations RPM created for the renovation series, 24 Hour Flip, also had very little movement. We used a sketchy blueprint style to illustrate the designs. The old room erased from the blueprint as the new design was sketched overtop. Once the new drawing was completed, the textures on the walls, ceiling, flooring and furniture hastily painted onto the sketch, transforming it into the 3D world – this created not only a sense of urgency, but also, precision. Taking this approach, we were able to highlight the show’s “ticking time bomb” style. It conveyed the energy we needed, without having things fly around the room.

Not that there’s anything wrong with having things fly around, as our work on Barbie’s Dream House Challenge can attest to. Obviously, when you’re creating animations for Barbie, you go big or go home – and we went big! First, we created a 3D plastic-toy-dollhouse replica of the real house. Then, we had to figure out how it moved. We locked it down to two choices; all the objects in the house could move like toys that “clip” into place; or, they could be magic! They could spin and grow and pop – even if plastic can’t. After seeing the first cut, it became clear that the magic route was the correct one to take. We gave all the objects a bit of character, allowing them to jump into their position Bipity-Boppity-Barbie style using some exaggerated “popping” dynamics. Then, we added sparkly fairy dust as a flourish, and voila! We had a movement style with just the right amount of attitude.

Will it flip? Will it flop? How about bop, twist or spin? Dissolve? Sparkle? Explode out of a confetti cannon? These are the questions that we, as a species, must face when developing a movement style within our animations. But as long as you’re working within the attitude of your show, feel free to cut footloose (ah, there was one more reference).

Want Your Show to Win the Battle of the Screens? Know Your Graphics…

In today’s increasingly visual world, it’s becoming harder to engage with your audience; you have to compete with the phone, the tablet, the laptop – all of the hundreds of screens that surround us every day; it’s basically the Matrix out there. But you don’t need to cyber-duel to techno music to see who comes out on top – not if your show has the right tools to deliver unique and dynamic storytelling. Enter: Graphics. 

Whether referred to as in-show graphics, design graphics, or episodic graphics, these animations provide an invaluable visual storytelling aid. For example, do you have an interview subject who’s rambling about some hard to grasp concept that risks putting your audience to sleep? No problem. Cut to a graphic that can distill that amorphous concept into a succinct 30 second, story-stuffed segment. Goodbye droning voice; hello clear and concise visuals. Feel free to clap the dust off your hands.

As Loren Ruch, head of content for HGTV, said, “I can’t underestimate the importance of graphics and animations for HGTV’s shows. They are the viewer’s window into the designs and processes of our superstar talent.  Radical Point Media has upped the game in terms of the quality of our graphics…”

So, let’s say that you’ve decided graphics are a tool you’d like to use in your show – great, good decision! Next question: what kind of graphic should you use? They come in all shapes and sizes, such as full screen animations, composites, augmented footage – it all depends on the needs of your specific story.

At this point, it’s important to note that in-show graphics are different from the “show series toolkit graphics package” that is commonly used throughout a series to identify people, places, or things like lower thirds, info-graphics, etc. In-show graphics are typically tailored for each episode and are used to uniquely enhance the storytelling.

Time to face a hard truth: we’d love to be able to shoot everything, but that’s not always possible. And sometimes, we miss big story beats. For instance, what if your show involves home construction, but the house isn’t built yet – you can try to create drama with footage of an empty lot and shots of two-by-fours, but, unless we’re talking about the plot of a murder mystery, that’s probably not going to fly. In moments like this, in-show graphics really shine.

When we created in-show graphics for the Discovery+ premium renovation-based docuseries The Queen of Versailles, we modeled a realistic 3D replica of the luxurious estate before the construction was even finished. This way, we could visualize what the designs would eventually become, and also showcase different stages of construction – filling in the gaps and telling the story that footage of half-built rooms could not.

But these graphics don’t have to be ultra-realistic. In terms of creative possibilities, in-show graphics offer the flexibility to create photorealistic visuals, hand-drawn aesthetics, or even X-ray views using CGI. For example, our work on the History Channel’s hit docuseries Salvage Kings showcased a sketchy, blueprint style that showed off the inner workings of tools/buildings in ways footage never could, deepening the audience’s understanding of how things work.

Want some more reasons to consider using in-show graphics? How about the budget? One of the major advantages of using in-show graphics is the ease with which changes can be made. It’s much easier and more cost-effective than the nightmare of reshoots, which can easily balloon considering the talent, crews, craft, shooting locations, and of course, the dreaded rainy day.

There’s no surprise why in-show graphics have become an integral part of television production. Through animation, complex ideas can be simplified, progress can be visualized, and concepts can be brought to life in ways that captivate audiences. With the right expertise and approach, like what we offer at Radical Point Media, well executed in-show graphics can give you the upper hand you need to win the battle of the screens, and make sure that your audience keeps coming back for more.