A Joni Christmas Extravaganza is Joni show special that happens every Christmas on the Daystar Television Network.
I created last year’s special, A Vocal Majority Christmas, and was again tasked with making this year’s package as well. The hardest part about coming up for a design for Christmas is making it look like Christmas yet staying away from clichés. I really strove this year to make something that was completely different from the previous year’s look but still have that Christmas-y feel.
Below you can read about the process I followed for bringing this design from concept to final product, or you can jump down to the bottom and view the rest of the graphics package.
Like I said above, the tricky part about this graphics package was to make it have that Christmas feel but no be cliché. I’m sure my producer would have been fine with something on the nose but I wanted to challenge myself with this project.
What really helped me solidify the design in my head was during a talk with my producer. She mentioned that this year’s show was going to be a more personal affair. They wanted it to feel intimate and have a ‘O Holy Night’ kind of vibe.
As soon as I heard that, I knew almost immediately what I wanted to do.
The concept development for this was surprisingly easy. I had known about the project since June and had come up with a few designs before my producer had even come to speak with me about it in October.
Back in June they were shooting for a kind of 1920’s, Great Gatsby feel. With that in mind I focused heavily on patterns and intricate line work. It helped that the Great Gatsby had just come out so the internet was awash with reference photos.
The designs that I created were from these reference photos were meant to be more simplistic in layout with large swathes of negative space to bring focus to the title. I knew that the title was going to be the main element in this whole package so making that front and center was my biggest goal.
Those only took a day or two to come up with and since it was June, the project was soon put on the backburner and I was moved on to other tasks. I wasn’t free to work on it again until October when my producer came to visit me.
She took me and my art director down to see the bare bones of the set they were in the middle of designing. The whole look of the set was based on dark backgrounds with a small set of bright spot lights to highlight the singers that would be the show’s main attraction. Seeing that and then having my producer tell me about the feel of the show gave me a new idea to play with.
Thus the above was born. I liked it because of the dignified look it presented. The title was in nice stark contrast to the dark, snowy background and it gleamed which was also a bonus with our producer. When I told her that I had the concepts ready to look at, she immediately agreed that this was the perfect one. I was given the go ahead to go straight into production.
Before I went there however, I made some concepts of the Fullscreen, Lower Thirds, and Close. I usually liked to go into After Effects with at least a picture of what I want to make.
After those were all approved, I went to the production phase.
The production on this project was even easier than the concept development phase. I already knew that they were going for a more solemn approach so that meant I could use slow pulls and pushes for most of my animations.
The hardest part was getting the title text to look right. I had designed it in Photoshop, relying heavily on layer styles. When you import a Photoshop file into After Effects it will allow you to import the layer styles and edit them as well which is nice.
The main thing I wanted with this package though, was to give it a subtle 3D feel. I wanted to do extreme push ins on the letters and really show that metallic shine. You can’t really do that with flat Photoshop text. Thus, I turned to Video Copilot’s Element.
It was surprising easy to use. I have had a little trouble in the past getting Element to work just how I wanted but my coworker helped me this time around. He explained to me how Element could work in tandem with After Effects lights and that’s where the real magic came from. After learning this, I realized he was right.
He helped me create the starter text but I wasn’t quite digging it. It looked almost like my concept text but it wasn’t spot on and frankly, I liked my concept type better. So, I came up with a cheat solution that would give me the best of both worlds.
I used the Element text for all the pieces of the project, but on top of it I placed a PNG of my concept title, isolated with transparency. Whenever the text was close to camera, the PNG file would fade away and Element would be used but when the camera pulled out, the PNG would reappear and cover it up.
I liked the work around as it allowed me to get the look I wanted while still keep that 3D feel. After I figure that out, it was easy to put together the rest of the package. Everything had a nice slow move to it and the open was comprised of mostly cuts. There wasn’t really anything especially hard about any of it so it only took me about a week to create the whole thing.
All in all, it was one of the easiest graphics packages I have ever had to make, and that’s pretty cool. You can see the rest of the package, such as the lower thirds and bumps, down below. Thanks for reading!
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