Billed as the first African-American broadcast network, Katz Broadcasting’s Bounce TV airs an eclectic lineup of theatrical motion pictures, documentaries, faith-based programming, sitcoms, and even boxing events. There’s a little something for everyone, which made updating the network’s on-air identity a challenge for Atlanta-based creative development agency Elevation.
“They were looking for a very current vibe and feel, but when you marry that to the content that they are showing, we had to try and be a little more balanced,” said Stephen Cocks, Elevation’s executive creative director.
In its previous manifestation, Bounce’s branding was full of people shot over green screens, engaged in fun but not necessarily modern-feeling activities like hip-bumping the network’s logo and laughing. While needing to move firmly in a new direction for the rebrand, Bounce also wanted to stick with its existing jewel-toned color palette as well as its existing logo, a 3D mark composed of big, bold lettering, including an “O” that is literally seems to be bouncing away from its from its fellow characters.
The process of integrating the old logo into the network’s new on-air identity would prove to be challenging. After a six-month period during which the agency went through, said Cocks, “four major different design looks and within that, about three different iterations,” Elevation and Bounce still hadn’t decided on the final direction for the graphics package. Along the way, Elevation had come up with a 2D aesthetic dominated by flat shading and simple composition, which seemed like a winner in terms of creating the desired contemporary look and feel, but which posed problems when set against the prominent 3D Bounce logo. With the decision over what to do about this juxtaposition of crucial elements still pending, Elevation decided to go ahead and start shooting live-action elements.
Elevation has a longstanding relationship with Katz, including rebrands of the company’s Laff and Grit multicast networks, both of which draw on the presence of actual people to give an “authentic feel with this really nice draw-in to the audience,” said Steph Carson, senior producer for Elevation. Both client and vendor knew that a similar effect could be achieved with Bounce, but again, the network’s delicate balance of made doing so a bit complicated.
“The tricky thing is that we knew, having gone through all the graphic development, that we had a very bright jewel-tone pattern that we were working with, with graphic overlays that we reanimated, and lots of patterns,” Carson said.
To merge these elements while also incorporating a more contemporary vibe, the agency “needed a location that was very simple for the background, but we didn’t want to just do white sides, we wanted something with a little more texture and depth.”
Elevation found those qualities in a space called Ambience Plus Studios in Atlanta, which had “great, open windows and lots of natural light,” Carson said. “It also offered a lot of nooks and crannies in the location for us to get some various backgrounds, especially some really nice dark bricks to counter the white that we had, and also a couple metal background textures that we could put people in front of in case Bounce needed [to vary] between day and night packages.”
The intricacies of the location helped Elevation “create two varieties of tone, darker backgrounds and lighter backgrounds, close-up shots of talent over brick surface, and then some wider open shots as well,” Cocks added. “In terms of economy of scale,” he continued, “we were able to shoot a tremendous amount by choosing a location like that.”
Elevation had gone into this live-action shoot, as Cocks put it, “not having the design element completely worked out,” but the two-day production actually provided clarification.
“Once we had all the footage from the shoot, we started putting edits together and the energy from the talent and from the cuts we used helped dictate some of the graphic direction,” said David Hendrix, Elevation’s associate creative director of animation.
That energy is sophisticated yet energetic, cosmopolitan yet warm and sensual. Watching the finished product’s geometric shapes and patterns arrange themselves around the people onscreen, it’s easy to see how the live-action footage became a kind of connective tissue for the identity.
“We really wanted to come up with authentic, very relatable reactions for the audience,” Carson said. “Some of our favorite shots are just the talent laughing and having fun. It’s all really real. Nothing feels too scripted. It was very heavily dependent on the personality of the talent.”
What’s more, with the live-action footage now adding some bounce to the Bounce rebrand, Elevation proceed to solve the problem of 2D-3D integration. Simply put, “we got the logo working in 3D but removed the outline around it,” Hendrix said. “That [outline had] felt really clunky and didn’t fit with the modern clean aesthetic of the 2D graphics. Once we got that portion of the logo worked out, the rest kind of fell in place.”
Working on Bounce made for an “interesting case study,” Carson said, because it “shows the evolution of design in a creative agency and how we worked through those flows… In order to gel with our client, we explored lots of 3D options and in the end circled back to our original gut reaction, which was sticking with that 2D pattern. It end up being a really beautiful marriage between the two identities.”
Network: Bounce TV
SVP of Creative Services: Bounce TV/Katz Broadcasting: Bryan Slonaker
Entertainment Branding Agency: Elevation
ECD/Principal: Stephen Cocks
Senior Producer: Stephanie Carson
Associate Creative Director, Animation: David Hendrix
Associate Art Director, Animation: Justin Burks
Additional Animation: Leo Garcia Franchi, Sean Kiley, John Waddington
Line Producer: Alina Klopach