Times Square Project Spotlight

In the summer of 2013 I had the rare opportunity to develop and produce content for my employer, Micron Technology, that would feature prominently on electronic signage in Times Square in New York City.  From planning to execution this project required all my skills, not only as a motion graphics artist but also as a planner, communicator, and coordinator.  I created this page for my website to document the creation of the work and the wonderful experience I had in NYC.

The Plan

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  Micron was getting the opportunity to ring the NASDAQ trading bell and host a conference in the high tech NASDAQ headquarters in Times Square.  As part of the event, we would get time on what is called the “T2″ package, a series of enormous LED signs on two sides of the Southern End of Times Square. Around this time, we were also starting to think about how to update our company image with a focus on our customer relationships.  This event would become the launch party for a new look and approach to Micron’s identity.

whiteboard notes

It always starts at the board.

Pre-Production

A scouting trip done two months in advance proved invaluable to the planning process.  Our design team immediately realized that Times Square is an overwhelming kaliedescope of color and light.  It became clear that the best way to “stand out” would be to keep the design simple, with primary colors and minimal text.  This is how we arrived at our 4 word tagline “Your Innovation, Our Memory” and the subsequent 4 adjectives, 8 words total for the entire loop.  In the world of corporate jargon, 8 words in a 30 second piece is a coup.

The Work

Once we had the storyboards approved, I jumped right into production using the extremely helpful and well built After Effects templates provided by  the team at Times Square 2 http://www.timessquare2.com/, I was able to get my comps set up quickly and start building the animation.

AE screen cap

The comps got pretty big with hundreds of layers to manage.

Working at resolutions of over  5000 x 9000, with the work split across 12 screens of vastly different sizes and aspect ratios, this was an entirely new experience and welcome change of pace from the standard 16×9 HD format.  I took the approach of creating the entire loop first for the NASDAQ screen, which is a single screen that curves around the side of a building.  This enabled me to build the comp in a streamlined manner and make most of the design decisions up front.  I then took all of that animation and applied it to the remaining screens using their unique layout and size to highlight and enhance the content.  While several screens were reserved for the logo and the tagline, an overall unification was achieved by the use of synchronized color changes and effects that overlap between screens.  Here is a video that shows the raw output alongside the finished animation playing in Times Square.

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The Big Apple

Once we arrived in Times Square, our team had a busy and precise schedule to keep with a series of interviews, receptions, and photo sessions being supported by our AV team.  I gripped for each shoot, and also coordinated with Times Square 2 to secure a brief window of time to run our loop nonstop on the screens in order to shoot our executives with the screens as a backdrop.

Times-Square-Photo-Shoot

Shooting our officers in front of the signage in Times Square.

Also produced for the subsequent financial conference inside the Nasdaq building were alternate versions of the loop built to 16×9 and 4×3 aspect ratios, as well as a welcome loop based on the theme established in the main loop.  Prior to leaving for New York, getting all of the final animations rendered in the right format and properly mapped to their intended screens was a full time job, working to precise specs and staying in constant communication through emails and phone calls.  All of the NY crew were impressed with the quality of the work and how well prepared we were.

NASDAQ-Internal-screens

Several of the many LCD and projection screens inside the NASDAQ facility.

That’s a Wrap

It was incredible to see my work on screens that covered the entire sides of buildings, reaching up into the sky, to say nothing of the chance to be in NYC and feel buzz and energy that incredible city.  I produced over 60 seconds of loopable content that played across some of the worlds largest screens.  It was a definitive career highlight to be a part of a talented team that made the entire project such a success.

 

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