Monday, 9 January 2012

The life and death of a professional practice brief

So as I'd handed it in and am now awaiting the ultimate word, I now want to fully divulge the Professional Practice task that I've been ridiculously secretive about throughout the duration of the blog. It was a brief set by the national children's television network, CITV.

CITV approached the University of Wolverhampton (I think they'd been travelling across various colleges and universities) with the task of creating a new ident to be shown on their channel. The specs were that the ident could be anywhere between 3-12 seconds long (with the logo on for at least 2 seconds), the CITV logo provided could not be altered, and above all, it had to be funny. Well, once the insane excitement of a corporation as big as CITV coming to my doorstep wore off, I got to work on an idea.

In week 2 I came up with the funny little idea of a boy who, while having the verbal bells bashed out of him by his mother's annoying naggings, finds a remote with a button. This button, when pressed, summons sentient-like laser guns readily locked in to the exact spot the mother happens to be standing at and, with subsequent clicks, transform the target into an array of random items. I pitched the idea to the class and (when the nodding heads came in) went to work on the character designs and random items she'd become.

Some initial sketches of random items including a tutu wearing gorilla and jet-plane worm.

By the 21st October, I'd prepared an animatic to show to the appointed CITV delegates, whom said the idea was good, and with a couple details added to it could be a real contender. I think that presentation went well. I focused on the idea that it could be expanded into a series of idents, by simply changing the items that the mum is transformed into. So much so, I showed a second animatic replacing my original ideas with a picture of Horrid Henry, the Mona Lisa, and a quick blast of Nyan Cat. The idea behind that original meeting was that, after looking at the submissions, the CITV official would pick the top 5 most feasible ideas and ask them to continue to make the final article. What actually happened was that he said he saw so much potential that all ideas should be followed through and that they'd return on December 9th to pick the best.

The Boy character
The Mum character

Well, come 9th November (when the fear of a deadline in a month's time struck my heart) I retreated into my cave and began cracking away at the finished piece. Forsaking all other world pleasures (like food), I got it finished in time for the showcase. Presenting the final piece alongside 21 other peers was nerve-racking, to say the least. Marking up my work against the work of others definitely intensified a "grass is greener" feeling. I always think other work is much better than my own, so just getting enough confidence to say proudly "I think what you're about to watch is so good, people should have it transmitted through their televisions up and down the country", was hard.

Less talking was required for this one. It was pretty much, show the thing then listen to the feedback, that seemed to be the pattern. But at my turn, after I'd shown, he seemed to like it. He remembered the novelty of the idea beforehand and enjoyed the final piece without any criticism. I was really encouraged. The life-threatening pulsations given off by my too worried heart were essentially unfounded. My nerves did increase more when lots and lots of good work got shown. Mentally counting the (presumed 5) spaces being filled in 1 by 1 was terrifying. But the decision was something I didn't expect completely.

Y'see, the CITV official, once again, couldn't split hairs with so many good submissions. But he was a little more decisive than before. He proposed two winning categories of candidate. The first category was a group of 5, whom he felt were perfect as they are and could be put forth to the advanced level of testing and legality screening (like all CITV programming) to potential be used on their network. The second category, were a group of idents who, given a couple tweaks that he'd highlighted during the earlier feedback could then be put forward to the further screening. I figured I was in the latter category...but he hadn't given me any feedback before? Immediately my mind jumped to the worst possible conclusions involving scenarios where I'd have to reproduce the entire ident over Christmas. He said that the design of the boy character was too clean-cut and not mischievous enough. In order to be eligible to be taken forward, I'd have to change the boy's design. Well at least I didn't have to make the entire over. I approached him after the meeting and together, he came up with something close to want he felt was more right.

The new boy character

So over Christmas, I redesign the kid's head and have sent it off to be judged. Whether it makes it to a TV near you, I'll find out soon I guess. It was a great experience going through the animatic, final piece and pitch stages. Truly what "professional practice" is about. Here's the final ident below.