The creative team at Manhattan-based design and production company UVPHACTORY (UVPH), working under the direction of Morgan Almeida, Director of Creative Al Jazeera English, was a key collaborator in the design, production and branding of Al Jazeera English, the first 24-hour English-language news and current affairs channel broadcast from the Middle East.
UVPH created the main HD news graphics package for the channel; eight :15 3D animated, high definition on-air logos; and 30 :15 live-action international overview IDs all of which were delivered in both PAL and HD formats, and which debuted when Al Jazeera English began broadcasting globally on November 15.
To shoot the 30 high definition live-action international overview IDs, UVPH dispatched a team to South Africa, which afforded them a diversity of environments. Striving to capture Al Jazeera English objective overview of all issues, looking at every angle and every side, the UVPH team spent 35 hours in a helicopter, shooting over Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town with gyro-stabilized camera mounts on a Panasonic HD Varicam. South Africa proved to be an ideal location as it allowed UVPH to shoot, in a relatively short period of time, a wide range of environments ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® beaches, metropolitan cities, deserts and wilderness ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® all of which were in close proximity.
‘At UVPHACTORY we frequently shoot live-action but combine the footage with 3D, effects and type. In this instance our mandate was to capture the most beautiful shots possible ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® there would be no postproduction, no effects, no nothing ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® only exquisite images,’ stated UVPH Creative Director Alexandre Moors. ‘We were able to plan some of the shots in advance ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® we knew for instance that we would catch a soccer match here or a power plant there ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® but changes in the weather forced us to look for images on the fly and we came upon some remarkable scenarios that proved to be perfect for our IDs. It was an extraordinary photo safari.’
At the same time UVPH Executive Producer Brian Welsh and Moors were shooting in South Africa, a team of animators and compositors in New York were creating the 3D high definition animated logos. One of the UVPH team fortunately knew both Arabic and Arabic calligraphy and his expertise was invaluable in the creation of the logos. He broke down the Al Jazeera logo into the different letters, and a sequence of how each letter lays down ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® which is the first point and the last point of each letter – and made a sheet so that when the UVPH team was animating or thinking about a logo everyone would have a point of reference. ‘The logos were to function like section headings in a newspaper,’ explained Alexandre Moors. ‘Handmade represents the arts and has a painterly gold feel that writes on the logo; Politic represents the exchange of political ideas; For Spirit, which represents spirituality, we focused on Jinn, the genie in the bottle; Technicity heralds technical advances and has an ultra modern feel; for Tradition, which represents cultural events, we employed Arabian colors and textures ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® reds, yellow and the look of silk, and so on,’ he continued.
‘As we constructed and deconstructed the eight logos each presented its own challenge ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® for example, one is liquid, another cloth, so a number of different software packages were utilized to make the motion natural. In addition, the renders were huge. First we did pre-visualizations at half res and then final renders in full res HD. They were truly challenging to manage,’ Brian Welsh continued.
‘This was a complex collaboration’ added Welsh. ‘Al Jazeera Morgan Almeida drove the creative direction, strategy and branding which positions the channel across all four centers – the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. We incorporated the creative direction and initial conception of a British branding agency that approached us to further develop their initial concepts. We designed the eight logos animations that would cross numerous cultural boundaries and echo the diversity of Al Jazeera audiences and programs, and therefore appeal to all sorts of aesthetics and mindsets across the globe. For the international overview IDs, Morgan Almeida brief was to connect with the viewer both geographically and emotionally using timeless filmic IDs without any overt graphic styling. The branding we created for the news hour opens and the overarching animations echo the idea that Al Jazeera English broadcasts across time zones so we incorporated strong vertical lines which are a metaphor for the lines of longitude and the movement of time around the earth.’
Of his experience working with UVPH, Al Jazeera English Director of Creative, Morgan Almeida, said, ‘UVPHACTORY did a brilliant job. Their team went off to South Africa and scouted and shot footage that turned out to be an integral part of our branding. Working with UVPHACTORY made for an excellent collaboration. All around, it was a fantastic relationship.’
As the Al Jazeera English news desks follow the stories of the day, they also follow the sun. The day begins with three hours of coverage from Kuala Lumpur. Doha, Qatar has the middle 8 hours, then on to London, and Washington DC, and back to Kuala Lumpur. Al Jazeera also has studios in 20 other countries.
Al Jazeera English is now available to 80 million homes ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® double its target audience – in Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia. In the United States, the channel is available via a broadband Internet connection.
The UVPH creative team responsible for the Al Jazeera English branding included Principal/Co-Founder Scott Sindorf; Principal/Co-Founder Damijan Saccio; Creative Director/Director Alexander Moors; Executive Producer Brian Welsh; Designers Alexandre Moors, Bashir Hamid and Colin Hess; Lead 3D Animators Scott Sindorf and Bashir Hamid; 3D Animator Ryan Bradley; Compositors Bashir Hamid, Shuyi Wu and John Stanch; Editor Robert Lopuski; Director of Photography Brian O’sCarroll; and Production Manager Melissa Sarno.
UVPHACTORY utilized Softimage|XSI 5.1, Syflex Cloth Simulator, Next Limit RealFlow fluid simulator, Apple Final Cut Pro 5.0, Adobe After Effects 7.0, Adobe Photoshop CS and Adobe Illustrator CS in the completion of this project.
While shooting in South Africa, UVPH worked with film facilitators BLM Productions (Durban, South Africa).
Representing Al Jazeera English were Director of Creative Morgan Almeida, Art Director Patrick Bedeau and Design Coordinator Celine Legoas.
UVPH is a New York-based design and production company offering a complete range of creative services including conceptualization, live-action direction and production, editorial, 2D/3D animation, sound composition/design and final compositing for broadcast, commercial, film, music video and web clients. Additionally, UVPH has leapt full force into the longer format arena, directing and producing music videos. Since the company formation in 2000, UVPH has attracted a diverse client base including AT&T, BET, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CBS, Cinemax, Cingular, Coca-Cola, Comedy Central, ESPN, FOX Sports, General Electric, HBO, IBM, IFC, Miramax, MTV, NBC, Scripps Networks, SCI FI Network, Showtime, USA, US Cellular, VH1, and VOOM HD Network, among any others.
UVPHACTORY is headquartered at 224 Centre Street, Suite 2E, New York, NY 10013; 212-483-0040; Fax: 212-483-9371; For more information, or to see a reel, contact Senior Producer Brian Welsh. Visit the UVPH website at www.uvph.com
About Al Jazeera English
Al Jazeera English is a 24-hour English-language news and current affairs channel headquartered in Doha, Qatar. A subsidiary of Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera International is the world first English-language news channel to be headquartered in the Middle East. With broadcasting centers in Kuala Lumpur, Doha Quatar, London and Washington DC, and supporting bureaus worldwide, the channel provides both a regional voice and a global perspective to a potential world audience of over one billion English speakers. The station broadcasts factual programming including news, features and analysis, documentaries, live debates current affairs, business and sports.