The propulsive, hype-raising intro montage for a sprawling global event
World Athletics Productions wanted a bold, flashy and engaging title sequence that could appeal to the right demographic with a sense of "youthful vigor". They wanted to showcase athletes from all over the world in different disciplines in an epic introduction for this event on a global stage. The World Athletics Championships would be hosted in the US for the first time ever, and in a state unique as Oregon the branding and cultural identity had to reflect that. I got started on ideation and building a coherent design language that could respond to Oregon, the Championships and the World.
Development and Ideation
My pitch was to integrate aspects of the "Oregon Tapestry", a secondary branding initiative, to the momentum of each athlete through a continuous leaping camera direction that pulls out at the end through the event logo. The central challenge was compositing elements of Oregon Tapestry, colored rays and other shapes within the movement of each athlete.
I used RunwayML to rotoscope dozens of athletes, and used Runway's alpha channel as a track matte to composite glow and light wrap behind each movement. The shots are all telephoto sports broadcast, huge lenses that compress space to make each athlete feel like the biggest thing in the room. I wanted to compliment that aspect while also giving depth to the frame. There were a number of ways I considered making the effects dramatic, from animating the shapes of the Oregon Tapestry to evolve and dissolve to covering the stadium behind the athletes with abstract glowing surfaces. It was a tricky thing to balance, because anything I added had to match the intensity of the athlete while not completely overwhelming the average viewer. In the end I combined two sorts of shapes, the "dancing snakes" that grooved with the body and music, and the "swoosh bars" that painted through angles of velocity literally.
Billion with a "B"
On July 15-24, this title sequence aired at the start of every broadcast across the integrated world feed. The event garnered a billion cumulative international views in over 200 countries and NBC Sports reports that it brought in excess of 13.7 million viewers domestically, the largest audience in the championship's history.