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.