When CBS Sports wanted to create an exciting new graphic package for the 2011 U.S. Open, they teamed up with Manhattan-based Click 3X, a full-service creative group specializing in on-air promotion and network branding. Click 3X was tasked with essentially revamping and rebooting the entire package of elements that the network had been using for the past five years in conjunction with this annual event, the fourth and final part of the tennis season's Grand Slam (which includes the Australian and French Opens and Wimbledon).
Held each year in August and September at Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York City, the U.S. Open attracts the attention of players and fans throughout the tennis world. With tennis being an increasingly international sport, many of the top players—both male and female—are from outside the US, so the team had the added challenge of keeping the package relevant and timely for US fans.
"It's such a huge, exciting event—the biggest tennis tournament in the United States," says Click 3X art director/designer Miguel Hernandez. "Our first step was to look at the graphics from prior years, then we ran down all of our ideas until we could agree on a direction with CBS Sports. CBS is a well-oiled machine, so it was important to make sure that our ideas fit into their work flow."
The Click 3X team then faced the task of having to retrofit approximately 100 graphic elements into the existing framework. "We didn't just give it a face-lift," says producer Jason Lowther. "We needed to rebuild the elements from the ground up while being sure we covered the functionality of the pre-existing package." The team also shot back-plates, which were later composited with the graphic elements.
"It's a pretty comprehensive package," noted Lowther, "with front-end player profiles, logo transitions, billboards and sponsor elements—the crown jewel being the Open, which airs at the start of each day's coverage." Lowther continued, "We tried to capture the epic feeling that makes this event so special: the spectacle and sheer size of the event, the coming together of the international participants and the New York setting and crowds.”
The elements were created in a modular fashion as quickly as possible. "The idea was to hit the main assets hard and design them fast. Then, we could fill in the rest of the package based on that," explains Hernandez. "On a job like this, you have to approach it smartly so you're not rebuilding everything from scratch."
Using the Adobe suite of programs along with Maxon Cinema 4D, the team ultimately created a toolkit so that CBS Sports could then take the elements and create whatever they needed. "It's not just creating elements and handing it over to the client," notes Lowther, "it's about providing the tools so that CBS Sports could continue the creative process throughout the event."
Hernandez adds, "We want them to be just as proud of the job as we are, so it means moving forward, graphically and philosophically, together."
Apparently that was the case, as CBS's creative director Pete Radovich can attest. "They [Click 3X] hit every deadline, there was never any panic on their part, and most importantly, the end product was above and beyond what we were hoping for. Not sure what else you could ask for as a client," he says.
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