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February 2013

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open house BigStar's big ideas N EW YORK — Creative strategy and production company BigStar (http:// believes that successful creative is born out of healthy doses of great storytelling, design, live-action, animation, visual effects, and passion for the work. The studio takes a platform-agnostic approach to telling stories and delivering branded content that is meant to inform, engage and inspire. With a team of designers, directors and producers, BigStar creates content for the advertising, film and broadcast industries for such clients as HBO, NBC Sports, Food Network, ABC, KBS+P, Saatchi & Saatchi, TBWA Chiat Day, Walton Isaacson and Droga5. Combining branding, ideas and technology. Josh Norton: "We have to prove ourselves every day, on every project — that's what continues to drive us forward creatively." IN THE BEGINNING In 2004, at the age of 26, president/executive creative director Josh Norton launched BigStar with partners Alex Krawitz and McClaine Russell. Trained as an animator and designer, Norton had previously worked on a freelance basis at motion graphics and design stalwarts Imaginary Forces and Version2. His inspiration to become a creative director and curate his own clientele led to the founding of BigStar, where the partners worked on press kits for up-and-coming bands, branding for small companies, music videos and industrial work. Their hard work later translated to 3D films for AOL, and graphics for HBO shows such as Countdown. BigStar was founded with the idea of putting final product as well as the client experience at the forefront. This mantra holds true eight years later under the leadership of Norton, who has been the sole owner of the company since 2010, when both Russell and Krawitz left to pursue other opportunities. "BigStar is a young company in a highlycompetitive field," says Norton. "We're still very much in our spring, and have our best work ahead of us. The speed at which our industry is moving makes for a really exciting time for us. We have to prove ourselves every day, on every project — that's what continues to drive us forward creatively." BigStar has grown its in-house team and clientele organically over the years. Functioning as a full-service creative strategic and production company means it is uniquely positioned as a resource to ad agency and network clients, offering everything from brand strategy and concepting to live-action, compositing and visual effects. RECENT WORK Though BigStar's roots are as a boutique motion graphics company, it goes beyond the typical motion graphics mold. Its broad spectrum of work spans the worlds of commercials, broadcast packages, network promos and teasers, graphic interstitials for independent films and documentaries, feature film main titles and opening sequences. Recent projects include a redesign of ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, which includ- The studio created a series of promos for Food Network's The Next Iron Chef: Redemption. ed a new logo, show open and graphics package. The client was looking for a new, modern and clean look atypical of the nightly news convention. The goal for the rebrand was to create a design that reflected Diane Sawyer's reporting style. BigStar developed a number of ideas, ultimately honing in on 3D animated cubes, which rise to define the geography of the world. "In our development process, the throughline was that ABC illuminates and defines the world around us both nationally and internationally," explains Norton. "Since the program portrays global news as seen through America's eyes, we dialed-in the colors, which phase from glossy silver to red, white and blue. The 3D cubes serve as a visual anchor, rising and falling like a mosaic to form the topography." For a series of promos for Food Network's The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, the goal was to create a visual package that embodied the idea of combat and redemption in a dramatic way. The campaign focuses on 10 Kitchen Stadium veterans, such as Jehangir Mehta, Elizabeth Falkner, and Alex Guarnaschelli, who return for another shot at the prized title of Iron Chef. In the promos, the chefs perform kitchen "acrobatics" on a massive prep table set in a Post0213_037-open house big starRAV4finalread.indd 37 seemingly infinite environment under an ominous dark sky. Flames spreading across the landscape evolve into a fiery phoenix, the ultimate symbol of redemption, says Norton, to conclude the promo. For the Iron Chef project, BigStar provided concepting and story development, live-action production, VFX and animation, and post. BigStar also designed the main titles and graphics for Last Call at the Oasis, a documentary about the world's water crisis. Directed by Jessica Yu, the opening sequence is a ballet of clear water floating and crashing until there is only one drop left. An Elise Pearlstein-produced film typically involves a massive social issue, creative problem solving and great storytelling. Tackling a subject such as the lack of clean and available water throughout the world takes a special visual approach, one that BigStar took very seriously. "Though we can create cool new worlds from our imaginations, we must employ techniques and designs that communicate to the viewer in a real space," explains Norton. "This is a serious issue, and the challenge is to use our smoke and mirrors to be engaging and intriguing, but never misguiding. That's why when you watch the film you will see infographics and effects that are believably integrated into real photography." GEAR BigStar is a Mac-based studio, and employs a variety of software technologies, including Adobe's After Effects, Photoshop and Illustracontinued on page 42 Post • February 2013 37 1/23/13 6:42 PM

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