When ESPN partnered with the University of Texas to create the Longhorn Network, the new television/online network devoted to non-stop coverage of UT sports, they knew they needed a look that went beyond the usual brightly-colored graphics seen in most televised sports packages, and tapped into the school’s illustrious heritage on and off the field, as well as the quirky nature of Austin life in general. Design/creative engagement studio Loyalkaspar was more than game. The result: Five distinct show opens/packages, as well as an array of customizable bumpers, menus, lower thirds and more all designed to uniquely brand Longhorn life. ''What’s distinctive about the University of Texas is not just the games themselves, but the history, the heritage, the alumni, the fans, the tailgating experience -- the game brings people together, but ultimately it’s bigger than the game. We wanted to capture that spirit in our design,'' Geoff Bailey, Loyalkaspar Creative Director says. Inside The UT Trophy Case Loyalkaspar came up with the creative concept of a massive trophy case, which gave them not just a clever symbolic means to evoke UT’s tradition, classic games and past championships, but also provided a design style that blended game footage, newspaper clips, iconic images of campus and city life, as well as various sports detritus into a look unlike anything else in sports television. ''The city of Austin and the UT campus served as our inspiration,'' Bailey says. ''We incorporated textures from the sides of Austin buildings and old barns, the UT stadium and campus life in general, building a vast image library that also included atmospheric shots like rusted pipes, road signs, old neon dinner signs and wrought iron fences – all distinctly Austin.'' Using the trophy case metaphor also allowed the Loyalkaspar designers to take viewers through ''worlds within worlds'' -- elaborate visual diorama-like time capsules that captured UT sports moments in time. A good example can be seen in the show open for ''Game Plan.'' It begins with an iconic shot of the UT football stadium. The camera then quickly pans up and out of the stadium, revealing that the stadium is merely a prop on a conference table for coaches to analyze. Matching Camera Moves Besides the archived images and game footage, Bailey and the Loyalkaspar animation team took the unusual step of incorporating actual camera tracking information from games (lenses, angles, cuts, etc.) and mimicked those moves in their animation, creating a heightened sense of authenticity and real-time sports intensity. ''We didn’t want the camera work to simply drive through the action in a mindless way, we wanted to capture the gritty details,'' Bailey adds. ''Television cameras film sports action in a very specific way and we tried to bring that humanness to the branding.'' Bailey adds that they benefited incredibly by working with ESPN, a frequent client that always demands they push creative boundaries. ''ESPN was a dream client,'' Bailey notes. ''ESPN Creative Director Chris Mantzaris and Producer Kira Karlstrom kept challenging us to take chances and see how far we could push the design.''
Client: ESPN Project: Longhorn Network branding Design/Animation: Loyalkaspar, New York Creative Director: Geoff Bailey Executive Producer: David Herbruck