The opening titles of ESPN’s sports journalism series, Backstory, hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Don Van Natta, Jr., are much like the stories he reports: multilayered and ambitious.

Each episode of the series serves as a cold-case investigation of a story from sports’ archives. Van Natta, Jr. peels back the layers of each story to bring new insights and reporting to some of sports’ most historic moments, starting with Serena Williams’ infamous 2018 disagreement with Umpire Carlos Ramos at tennis’ U.S. Open.

To reflect those themes, production agency Spillt created an opening titles and graphics package that blends sports, investigative journalism and elements from Van Natta, Jr.’s career spanning the Miami Herald, New York Times and ESPN.

The package—which airs in a traditionally journalist palette of black, white and red—integrates live-action shots, CGI elements and scans of physical articles and notes from Van Natta Jr.’s work.

Backstory originally premiered on ABC on Sunday, August 18, and re-airs across ESPN’s family of networks.


Client: ESPN

Senior Coordinating Producer: Julie McGlone

Producer: Phil Dean

Manager: Amanda Paschal

Managing Producer: Aimee Stokes

Producer: JeanLuc Ladouceur, Garrett Hedstrom

Production Coordinator: Amanda Braunlich

Editor: Samantha Nicodemo, Nate Ayob

Production: Bluefoot Entertainment

Agency: SPILLT

Direction: Ed Rhine

Creative Director: Ed Rhine

Art Director: Jason Oberg

Senior Producer: Julie Morrandez

Senior Designers/Animators: Jason Oberg, Miles Petrock

Animator: Zach Hartman

Mix Master: Tim Spero

Narration: Don Van Natta, Jr.

Composers: Boris Zelkin, Deeji Mincey

Tags: backstory bluefoot entertainment don van natta jr. espn hot spots main titles spillt

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