Flavor Beautifully Unifies Visual Treatment Encompassing The AICP Show, Next Awards, and Post Awards

For this year’s suite of its illustrious global awards competitions, The Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) chose creative production studio Flavor to unify each show’s visual packaging with the goal of connecting them, while also giving each a distinct identity. In collaboration with its Cutters Studios sibling companies Cutters and Another Country, Flavor stepped up to a challenge which in previous years has involved multiple extraordinary efforts from creative industry design superstars. 

“Viewers of this year’s AICP Show: The Art & Technique of the Commercial, AICP Next Awards, and AICP Post Awards shows experience a master class in graphic design and music language,” said Matt Miller, President and CEO of AICP. “We are most grateful to Cutters, Flavor, and Another Country for the artistry, craftsmanship, and commitment to the shared values of our growing global community.”

Spanning The AICP Show, AICP Next Awards, and AICP Post Awards for 2023, here is a montage featuring Flavor’s artistry…

Known for representing unlimited production capabilities, it is very fair to describe Flavor’s list of deliverables for this project as daunting. In summary, it included: show-specific opening title and end credits sequences; long and short sponsor reels for screenings at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); show-specific lower thirds and interstitials; and show-specific winners’ credits. Virtually all of these elements also involved custom sound courtesy of Another Country. Bespoke reels of editorial elements were also created for show screenings and archive reels courtesy of Cutters.

Under Flavor’s leadership of Managing Director Neal Cohen, Executive Producer Kate Smith, Producer Brittany Maddock, Executive Creative Director Brian McCauley, Associate Creative Directors Brad Backofen and Colby Capes, and Art Director Mack Neaton, the studio’s artists also provided the AICP with graphics used extensively in programs and collateral materials, including presentation materials for the AICP Week Base Camp, held in conjunction with the premieres of the AICP Awards. 

According to McCauley, his team was drawn to the idea of “nature as canvas, where the beauty of the natural world can be molded and changed to create something new,” he explained. “So we set out to create flowers in 3D and use their surfaces as a moving canvas to create something familiar but unique; a new perspective.”

To set each show apart, the team focused on bold, bright, pop gradients for The AICP Show, on paint and pastels for The AICP Post Awards, and on a more graphical, techy look for The AICP Next Awards. To complete the package, Another Country’s Joe Philips composed original music giving each show a unique and distinctive sound using overarching sonic language. By his account, The AICP Show was sonically conceived as a bold and dramatic hybrid-orchestral score, The AICP Post Awards as a subdued and light electronic-pop-rock piece, and The AICP Next Awards as a forward leaning, alt-glitch arrangement.

“We approached the soundscape for all three AICP events as one big sonic branding project,” Philips noted. “Each composition centered around a four-note signature melody, which allowed us the freedom to explore different genres, keys, and instrumentation to cater to the emotional needs of each show.”

Systematic Project Management; Design Solution Rooted in Nature

Across the network of producers involved in this project on behalf of Cutters Studios, Post Production Producer Brittany Maddock was one of many intently focused on the pipeline. “We knew we needed to develop a system to centralize assets across the different show styles, and be able to interchange them when necessary,” she said. “Ultimately, this resulted in us having 7.5 minutes of custom CG content to utilize for the various deliverables.”

McCauley agreed: “The production matrix and hypervigilant communications were keys to our success. Our team kept in constant contact with Google Workspace and Miro, designed in Photoshop, modeled 3D in Maya, animated textures, and put it all together in After Effects using RE:Map UV.”

Flavor’s meticulous project workflow focused on these details.

  • Flowers: After widely researching flowers, models were gathered and optimized for 15, for which custom UV Maps were created.
  • Show Styles: After stipulating show-specific style and color palette, concept boards were created for each flower for artists’ reference.
  • Animations: Using the production matrix, designers signed up to create animations according to specs, producing 2-3 renders per flower.
  • RE:Map UV: Plugin allowed designers to previsualize textures which were passed on to Backofen for compositing after approval. McCauley explained: “For us to hit our deadline, it was critical that RE:Map work perfectly – and it did. We rendered our textures at 4k and were able to style each flower in After Effects in unique ways for each show.”
  • POST Awards: Designer Erica Kim hand-painted 100 paint textures, scanned them into Photoshop and animated each one, creating a crucial asset library.

Backofen further addressed the pipeline’s role in delivering the final visual results. “Thankfully we were able to come up with and build systems to facilitate an amazingly efficient workflow where every available artist, designer, and animator was able to contribute without having to sacrifice an ounce of the creative,” he said.

“We relied heavily on Arnold as our render engine and it nailed it at every turn,” Backofen continued. Praising the Maya team of Emily Berveiler and Thuc Nguyen – and Arnold’s Arbitrary Output Variable (AOV) system and Utility nodes for allowing use of RE:Map – he added, “We were able to go from proof-of-concept in Cinema 4D to production-ready in Maya in a matter of days.”

While Flavor was responsible for the 2020 AICP Post Awards Show Package, the studio’s previous contributions to AICP events have consisted of numerous show opens for AICP Show screenings in the Midwest. Understandably, having such a leading role in crafting all three shows is an immense source of pride. 

“It’s a career highlight to work on an AICP show graphics package. This year we got to work on three,” Cohen concluded. “Speaking on behalf of everyone at Cutters Studios, we all are incredibly humbled by the positive feedback, and really proud of our work.”

Click here to learn more about the AICP.

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