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yU + co Brands the Anime Network

3D menu system and giant robots highlight graphics package (October 04, 2004)

yU + co's 3D menu system for Anime Network

yU + co's 3D menu system for Anime Network

yU + co has designed and produced an innovative and multifaceted branding package supporting the launch of the Anime Network, a new 24/7 premium cable channel dedicated to Japanese animation. The sweeping effort includes a 3D menu system unique in broadcast graphics. Additionally, the studio created a graphics toolkit for the networks ?Giant Robots programming block that also makes distinctive use of 3D animation. yU + co collaborated on the project with creatives from the Anime Network and with programming development firm Brand New Bike. The Anime Network commissioned other design studios to produce graphics for other programming blocks.

The intent of the package is to give the Anime Network an on-air identity that is complementary to, yet distinct from the new networks content. ?We wanted the graphics not to be anime, but rather to be a point of distinction to the programming, explained Chris Nelson, the Anime Networks director of programming. ?It needed to be grounded in the culture of anime, but be something different.

Additionally, the branding needed to communicate the diversity of programming encompassed by the genre of anime and appeal both to hard core fans and more casual viewers. ?The term anime means many different things and includes programming that appeals to different age and interest groups, yet underlining all of it is a common aesthetic and a high level of artistic integrity, said yU + co creative director Garson Yu. ?It is that common spirit and sensibility that we sought to capture through our design.

The main criteria that the Anime Network and Brand New Bike sought in a design firm were a passion for anime and a willingness to defy broadcast design conventions. ?We wanted the most cutting edge company we could find, one that could deliver a look that was different, because anime is different, a look that would break all the rules and make the network stand out, said Brand New Bike creative director John Jamilkowski. ?yU + co was the first company I thought of and they came back to us with a book of ideas, literally ten pounds of ideas, with lots of different elements spinning out of them. They took our creative brief and totally nailed it.

The centerpiece of yU + cos branding package is its 3D menu graphic. Rather than a conventional, 2D grid system, yU + co reimagined the menu as an intricate, feather-light 3-dimentional structure of floating typography that resembles a high tech space station orbiting planet Earth. ?Menu information is embedded into the wire-frame structure, along with thematic terms such as the word ?tomorrow, explained yU + co art director Scott Denton Cardew. ?The camera ?discovers information by barreling and rolling around the structure in broad, organic moves. The design aesthetic doesnt draw inspiration from any one aspect of anime, but captures its spirit in a single brush stroke.

The concept for the menu was developed over the course of several months by yU + cos design team working in concert with Nelson and Jamilkowski. ?Through many hours of collaborative work, yU + co helped us in tightening our vision and defining what the look would be, Nelson said. ?When they came up with the grid structure as the place where our network would live, it all began to fall into place.

Perhaps the most innovative aspect of the menu system is that it is entirely modular. The Anime Network can change the content incorporated into the 3D imagery on its own, quickly and simply, through the use of Adobe AfterEffects software. ?We ventured off into uncharted territory by building interactivity into a fully rendered 3D form, Denton Cardew said. ?It rewrites the rules for menus.

The studios graphics package for the Giant Robots block embodies a similar level of visual sophistication. yU + co employed a concept artist to develop three anime styled robot characters, which studio animators then rendered in spectacular detail. Individual graphic elements do not, however, include full scale images of these characters, but rather focus on tiny aspects of their construction?a knee joint or a detail of its internal components?so that they have the character of abstract forms composed of cold light and polished metal, or whirling gears and strange, translucent orbs.

?We did a lot of tests to develop the right look and texture for the robots, art director Yolanda Santosa said. ?As part of our mission is to broaden the audience, we wanted the animation to satisfy the expectations of people who already love this style of anime and intrigue those who are new to it with its artistry and elegance.

Coming up for yU + co are main titles for Wicker Park, The Last Shot and First Daughter.

Credits for yU + co go to Garson Yu, creative director; Carol Wong, executive producer; Lane Jensen, producer; Scott Denton-Cardew and Yolanda Santosa, art directors; Yolanda Santosa and Martin Surya, designers; Etsuko Uji and David Yan, 2D animators; Preston Brown, 2D/3D animator; Chris Vincola and Yan Ng, 3D animators.

yU + co is located at 941 N. Mansfield Ave., Hollywood, CA 90038. For more information, call (323) 606-5050.


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Related Keywords:yU + co, Anime Network, Brand New Bike, Chris Nelson, Garson Yu, John Jamilkowski, Scott Denton Cardew, Adobe AfterEffects, Yolanda Santosa, Carol Wong, Lane Jensen, Martin Surya, Etsuko Uji, David Yan, Preston Brown, Chris Vincola, Yan Ng,

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