LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT.
Honored and humbled to lend my tiny design voice to the legendary broadcast ‘Saturday Night Live’, a show that spawned the comedic geniuses that I, along with countless millions, have watched and laughed with over the years, and somehow now having the ridiculous luck and good fortune to design the iconic ‘Weekend Update’s’ intro, it’s just sheer pandemonium.
Thanks to Visual Creatures and Ryan McNeely and John Cranston for giving me a shot on this one—they’re a sweet studio in Santa Monica and you should check out their stuff here: www.visualcreatures.com. I’ve worked with them on quite a few projects in the past, most recently drawing ‘Cap’n Crunch’s’ boat exteriors and interiors for his Youtube talk show.
Quick backstory on this project: SNL added newcomer Michael Che to host the program along with veteran Colin Jost, and they needed a new introduction to reflect that addition.
We had heard they might be going black and white with their overall show open, so I wanted to make sure that I at least presented some styleframes with that in mind. The show’s intro and Weekend Update’s intro didn’t need to coordinate whatsoever, we were told, but I didn’t necessarily think it would be a bad thing if they did.
With my first batch of frames, I wanted to hit the ‘classy’ element that SNL seems to exude in their opens. We needed this to hit on a number of fronts. New York. SNL. News. Fast-paced. We knew we needed to show both of the comedians, and have their name over both cards. So, type clearly needed to be introduced, as well. And the ‘Weekend Update’ logo was completely up to us to decide, which was amazing.
My first batch of boards were pretty simple. We decided that we should integrate elements from the actual creation process of Weekend Update. Tape decks, digibeta, time codes. These first few frames reflect that direction.
I kinda liked maybe showing aspects of their wardrobe, their hands holding papers, pencils, drawing a parallel to the process like that.
So, we were on a track, albeit a simple track. Compositionally, we knew we could make swell frames, but what would they mean? We needed to tie this thing up with a little ‘Weekend Update’ bow.
This show is written quickly. Edits are done on the fly and up to the last minute. The comedians are changing their deliveries up until show time. What better way to bring in that ‘process’ of the show than to play up the ‘proof-reading’ aspect of it? The nature of the edits. Ixnay this joke, use that joke.
That line of thought provided our through-line. I did the following frames with that in mind.
The ‘proof-reading’ marks could be massive, filling screen, moving our eye, our action, or tiny to simply pepper our frames with detail.
The SNL directors were drawn to this direction and gave us the green light for production! They sent over a ton of footage and I combed through it for a half-day, got the stills I thought would tell the best story and started designing on top of them. (Up until this point I was just using imagery from Google)
The animation team at Visual Creatures took my PSD files and animated them over the following week. They killed it. Really took the designs and aesthetic and pushed it to the next level. They introduced footage sequences to add life to the shots. It’s awesome to see what talented animators can do, what they see motion-wise, and how they can plus the project so much more than you might be able to foresee.
My case studies are usually longer than this, but that’s because the projects are usually longer than this. There’s more of an evolution, time affects the work, voices chime in, directions are altered.
Not this time, though! Two weeks from start to finish and 3 days total design-time for me.
Here are the final frames.
Again thank you again to Ryan and John and www.visualcreatures.com for coming my way with this awesome project. Check out their stuff, they’re coolinz (btw…never used the word ‘coolinz’ before, but an English gentleman I know said it recently so I thought it was what the cool kids were saying now. I realize I’m not English atall, and far too old to be saying such words, and I thoroughly regret typing it just now.)
It should be noted that I always dreamt of being on SNL but never thought that my designs would beat me to it.
(Footnote: On Michael Che’s name card, I put an ‘insert’ proof-reading mark to symbolize his first year behind the table and I reallllly wanted it to make the final cut. After seeing the final on Saturday night I’m happy to see that the ‘insert’ mark stayed as well as the integrity of the final designs!)
Make sure to check out the final every Saturday night for the next couple months, or go here:
Until next time!