Editors Note: Derek Volner is a writer for ESPNFrontRow.com as well as a publicist for ESPNU where he works on both college and high school sports.
SEC Network will debut Thursday, Aug. 14 with customized graphic packages for all 14 schools and a cohesive network design reflecting the solidarity of the conference and all 21-SEC sponsored sports. Mark Groeschner, creative director, ESPN Creative Services spearheaded the project and explains the process:
Tell us about the creative process involved in creating these distinctive spots?
The most unique part of the creative process was centering our landscapes around a diverse set of shapes and sizes. The star-shaped emblem for Vanderbilt is going to demand a slightly different "quad environment" [the animated depiction of the respective college campus "quads"] than the cursive Ole Miss mark, and from there we were given a plethora of great photos, iconography and traditions to pepper in and around these prominent logos, giving each ID it's own unique look.
Who did you consult with at the schools to make these animations - the schools' equivalents of Creative Services departments?
We collaborated with various folks at each school, usually a combination from within their marketing departments and athletic departments. The involvement of each school was a must for these IDs to succeed. We had to make sure we were as authentic as possible to each school's brand, and we couldn't have done that without their input.
What traditions are represented in these animations?
If we did our job right, every animation will house a handful of "easter eggs" for viewers to identify on repeated viewings. Every school animation starts with a campus landmark, then we have a few sections for historical photos of players, fans, coaches or mascots, then we end on what we have been calling our "School Quad environment," that has signage, phrases and imagery relevant to each school's history. The traditions represented were those that were dictated by the schools themselves, again, trying to stick to our mission of absolute authenticity.
From conception to completion, how much time is invested in creating just one of these animations?
If I were to boil it down to straight numbers, it probably took approximately one to two months to do each ID, but in reality we intermittently worked on these for the better part of a year. We worked closely with each school on these IDs. Our mission was to be absolutely authentic to the traditions and specific histories of each school. . . and to sure that all utilized imagery was approved by each institution.
We pitched the concept to each institution and asked them to contribute as many traditions, slogans and imagery that they could provide us. Based on the information they gave us we built an "end frame" [the school-approved final frame of the animation] for each school and evolved from there. It was a great back and forth, and as a byproduct of this relationship, our designers and animators got really familiar with the brand guidelines of just about every school.