Network branding agency Troika Design Group will be launching an on-air rebrand for MHD, the high definition all-music television network that combines programming from MTV, VH1 and CMT. Troika handled creative development, design and production of a 35-second image spot entitled "Creation," three 10-second IDs, an on-air promotion toolkit and a logo bug system, all based on an elaborate "music mythology" that will be the foundation for network promotions into the future. MHD's new identity is set to debut in 2008.
"We loved the collaboration with Troika. They totally understood our vision of showing a mythical place where music is experienced as never before," said Phil Delbourgo, SVP Brand and Design, VH1. "Rather than rely on the cliches of a high tech medium, they brought it to life with a rich organic palette and beautiful animation that showcased the best of what HD has to offer."
Troika worked with VH1 Editorial Director Traci Terrill and Senior Writer Beth Wawerna to conceive a series of vignettes that tell how music came to be. Inspired by the Tower of Babel and The Book of Genesis and influenced stylistically by Indonesian shadow puppetry, the MHD package demonstrates Troika's approach to branding a television network with character animation and storytelling, and highlights its capabilities working in HD.
The company also wanted to provide viewers something new upon repeat viewings, so lead designer and illustrator Heather Kim incorporated multiple layers of surprising music iconography within the design of the characters and environments. Details include a gazelle's headdress made from audio cables, boom-boxes that reveal themselves to be rocks, and a fish-like creature that rides a motorcycle made from instruments. And like Indonesian shadow puppets, these characters have purposefully articulated limbs and artful hand-cut surface designs, and move in a crude, but expressive puppet-like motion.
"Because MHD is broadcast in high definition and in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound, this gave us the opportunity to push the visuals and audio to the absolute maximum," said Dan Pappalardo, Executive Creative Director and Partner, Troika Design Group. "The creative team came up with a concept called 'Music Myth' and an elaborate doctrine of mythology explaining the origins of music and its transformative effect on the world; how it energizes and enriches our lives. Then we set out to invent a cast of mythical musical beasts to tell this story."
In the image spot "Creation," ogre-like drones, following a great calling, toil day and night to build a monumental tower from discarded music instruments from long ago. In an offering to the gods, one drone hoists an amplifier to the top of the completed tower and raises it to the sky. Suddenly, lightening strikes and the earth splits. Out from the fissure erupts a visual and auditory symphony of creatures that deliver music to the world, transforming it from eerie and oppressive to a strangely magical place full of color and light.
Three 10-second IDs offer glimpses into the genesis of hip-hop, country and rock. In "Scratch," thunder brings sub-bass into the world, as Egyptian and African-styled birds chirp to the sound of a DJ scratching vinyl. In "Fiddle," fiddle playing devils spring from the earth and jam in a country music style, while the ID "Drums" shows raindrops inspiring a griffin to introduce rhythm into the world. The "Creation" spot and IDs all close with the declaration, "Let there be music."
The actual production process involved sketching the characters and environments in pencil, then scanning these at 600 DPI and painting them digitally using Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. The painted characters were deconstructed as separate limbs, projected onto 3d geometry and animated using IK (Inverse Kinematics) skeletons. Modeling and animation were done in Autodesk Maya, compositing in MAXON Cinema 4D, and final color adjustment and atmospheric effects done in Adobe After Effects.
Troika is an award-winning design company known for producing memorable visual brand identities. Based in Hollywood, Troika combines a unique hybrid of skills with a team of more than 25 designers, producers, animators, editors and conceptual thinkers who specialize in network branding, promotional and advertising campaigns, and show packaging.
Founded in 2001 by industry leaders Dan Pappalardo, Mark Bohman and Chuck Carey, Troika is one of the premier providers of strategic design and creative production for television. The company's approach to design is clever, thoughtful and focused, delivering standout concepts while remaining faithful to a client's brand ideals. Troika has worked closely with top television and cable networks including The CW, FOX, ESPN, HGTV, E! Entertainment, Animal Planet, Food Network, ABC, NFL Network, Fine Living, VH1, TV Guide Channel and NBC Sports.