The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic took home best sporting event of the year from the Business Sports Journal. Why this is significant for me personally? I was the designer of the event! Designing for a Berkeley-based design firm called Moss Sports, I designed the "look" of the event. We had created the design the year before but the NHL strike of 2013 postponed the event a year. It was played at the Big House at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. It was the only time in the history of the 110,000 capacity Stadium that branding was allowed. It was a sell-out crowd with a huge rating broadcast fro NBC Sports. I am proud to be involved with this event and kudos to my very special design team at Moss Sports.
A quote from Don Renzulli, Vice-President of Events at the National Hockey League:
"Last night the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic received the award for "Sports Event of the Year"! Everyone had a major part in the success of the game on January 1 and should be proud of this accomplishment. This is the second time the Winter Classic has received this award, the first for the inaugural game in 2008. Thanks to you and your staffs for all the hard work put forth in making these games a reality. The sports world is taking notice of our games which now raises the bar for all future ones.
Everyone should take pride in what we collectively have accomplished with this event. Lets keep it going, thanks again."
Check out the link to the Business Sports Journal on the award.
When pitching to a potential client or delivering concepts; how many is too many? Is more better? When designing a logo I can sometimes generate up to 20 options. I'm currently designing a branding look for a major football bowl game. I have created 6 different designs but I don't plan on showing all of them. When I'm working on a design team we will have an internal meeting to decided what are our best efforts. At our firm, we have developed a questionnaire for clients to try and pull out what they are looking for before we spin our design wheels. This doesn't work most of the time because people generally don't know what they are looking for until they see it. If you show too many design options it looks like you are not confident in what you are delivering. It's even more difficult when you are working with a committee which has people with different ideas and tastes. I personally feel 2-3 options is plenty especially if it's a design pitch. Keep it simple, too many options can be confusing. Costco does not carry too many options of each product and has far fewer overall products than other stores their size. About 1/10 as many as a regular supermarket. They believe in presenting fewer, hand picked, options to their customers and have seen how it leads to more overall sales. They not only offer most products in only one size, but they usually only offer one or two flavors as well. As designers can we learn from such retailers? Absolutely.
I have been designing stadium graphics for over a decade now. I have 5 Super Bowls under my belt, several NHL Winter Classics and Stadium Series games played in Yankee Stadium and Soldier Field. I have also designed for the Cal Bears, USC, San Diego State, University of Miami & Syracuse University to name a few college teams. I have designed for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos. I have designed the photo collage in the Dallas Cowboys locker room. I have designed the graphics for the BCS National Championship game and the Fiesta Bowl.
I have also traveled to England and designed the graphics at Walker Stadium for the Leicester City Foxes which was a great honor having dual-citizenship in Britain and the U.S. These are just a few of the major stadium and event graphics I have designed. Please check out just a few of the more recent projects and let me know if you have any questions. Here is the link to a few photos of some of the projects I have designed. Please email me with any questions.
I am an all round graphic designer, art director and illustrator. I design logos, web sites, power point decks. You name it, I've designed it but my full-time gig for many years has been designing for Flying Colors which is now Moss Sports. This Company began the industry of "branding an event". There is a 30 year legacy of international events Moss Sports has designed. In the past decade I have designed a good many of them. I am proud of the work this team has accomplished. Here is a quick perspective a just a few of the highlights:
FLYING COLORS PAST PROJECT VIDEO
Color; I love it but it can be a huge headache. On large-scale events such as the NFL Super Bowl getting the color is critical. In such a large event we are working with multiple print vendors and substrates. We may be printing the Super Bowl logo on vinyl, adhesives, and multiple fabrics for both interiors and exteriors. I would set up one standard color tests with numerous Pantone color squares with many of the colors of the event on them. I would sent out the same test to each print vendor asking them to print on the various substrates we are using for that particular event. Once I got the color test back, some of them can be a 5 feet wide by 20 feet long. I will pick the PMS colors that print closest to the color I'm trying to hit. I will plug in that color into my graphic files. That color may vary per print vendor and substrate but will visually print the same. It can be quite complicated at times. The printing industry has come along way but using digital printing, silkscreen, dye sublimation, etc., it can become a nightmare.
Quite a few years ago I designed the Chicago Bears field wall at Soldier Field. The print vendor, for some reason could not hit the Bears' official blue. It printed almost a purple. Of course the team rejected the entire stadium field wall. The printer had to eat the entire job and print it over again.
Another example was when we designed the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in 2010. It was a complete re-brand. Tostitos had designed a new package for their tortilla chips and they wanted us to translate that to the stadium graphics for the National Championship Game in Phoenix. The packaging was mainly a navy blue but for the printer to print that dark blue on fabric I had to create graphic files with a baby blue in them. My files looked so "off", it was very nerve-racking.
When designing web graphics and web sites, color mistakes are forgiving. The designer can quickly upload revised files. Printing large-scale graphics need to be checked and checked again before going to production. The costs involved in printing, shipping, and most of all, installation can be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
I try to use PMS colors in my files. Printing a PMS color as a spot color versus a PMS color converted to CYMK can print dramatically different. Of course using RGB color in files will not print as seen on your computer screen since all the printing machines still using a CMYK process toy create the spectrum of colors. I have to be careful of the blacks in my files as well. A black created as C=0 M=0 Y=0 K=100 versus a black created with C=100 M=100 Y=100 K=100 prints much more like a true black.
Printing on vinyl mesh versus a 13 oz vinyl can create different colors as well. Because vinyl mesh as holes in it so air can pass through makes colors lighter. Less surface area to print on creates this. I usually go one shade darker as a rule to compensate for this.
I'm always creating graphics and effects in Photoshop and laying them over my Illustrator files. Using the same color in both programs sometimes does not get the same color value when printed because one is a vector and one is a raster (bitmap).
If I know I will be printing revised graphics for the same project in a year or two I will ask the printer to take note of the printer settings so when they go to print we get the same color results. It's amazing but even the temperature of the print shop at the time of printing can effect the color. I also make field wall panels no longer than 50 feet long because the color levels on the inkjet machine can also effect color and saturation.
I have been designing graphics for stadiums for more years than I can believe and the technology has come a very long way in those many years. I'm going to stick to the subject of raster graphics or pixel-based graphics. They are also referred to as bitmaps. Bitmaps are resolution dependent. Bitmaps are okay to scale down without loss of quality but scaling up a 72 dpi jpg to 60 feet high is a real problem. You loose all the quality of the image. You must begin with a high resolution image. We tend to prefer vector images in the environmental graphics industry for many reasons one being they are scaleable without loosing image quality.
Photographic-based images bog down your computer because they are such huge, memory-intensive files. One of the things I will do before working with the photos is create a high-resolution version and stick it in a folder called, "high res". I will save it into that folder and then create another folder called, "lo-res". I save the image with the same name in each folder but reduce the image size substantially in the "lo-res" folder. I use the lo-res version while designing the graphics and when I send it to the printer for production I only send the hi-res version. Because the file has the same name, the hi-res files link for the printer. This way I am not slowed-down working on my files. Sometimes I will have to use the same file over and over in a design which can make the files enormous in size.
For example, I designed the NHL Stadium Series game at Yankee Stadium using a base of vector graphics with Photoshop (raster) brush-effects and light-effects over the vector art. I do not embed the linked images therefore I have to remember to send the linked raster images to the production team.
I have also learned over the years that if you scan an image at a very-high resolution and then reduce the resolution down, the file keeps most of it's information and clarity as opposed to scanning in at a lower resolution. I tend to work with images at 100 dpi at full-scale. I have to do some calculations when working with files to figure out what resolution will work. I like photos shot from a camera on the "raw" setting but it's rare I actually get images like that. My 100 dpi rule applies to raster images that will be seen within feet of the image. If it is a building graphic or seen from a distance than the raster/bitmap image can be as low as 25 dpi. Some billboard graphics are as low as 9 dpi and work just fine.
When creating stadium graphics it's difficult to use a full raster layout, for example, creating a field wall wrap which is a long horizontal treatment, I have to create overlapping panels for an easier installation. I will use an image of a football player, for example as a panel break with an overlap. Color is a huge issue as well. I can not control the color of a raster images in the printing process like I can with a PMS (Pantone Matching System) colored vector graphic.
As I said before, I use Abobe Illustrator with a CAD plug-in called CAD Tools to created scaled drawings used for production. The raster effects I place and link to my vector graphics add complexity and time to the files but they can add so much more depth. I can achieve looks I can't create in Abobe Illustrator. I can not build 475 foot long, 1/4" scale stadium field wall in Photoshop. The software is not set up for this niche sector of graphic design. When I do use raster effects such as glows and drop shadows I must create them for the full scale image. The effects may look good on your computer screen at 1/8" scale but when blown up on a 20-story building they may not have scaled correctly or look completely fuzzy. This is why I will take a "sliver" of an image and print it full-scaled on our office plotter to see if the effect is working as intended and the resolution is good. These stadium and building graphics cost thousands of dollars to produce and install. Testing is essential to success. A small imperfection on large-scaled stadium graphics can be a glaring error. Something that is a blip on your computer screen can be 5 feet tall on the side of a stadium when produced at full-scale.
Ian Ransley DESIGN
Ian Ransley is a Bay Area Digital Artist, Graphic Designer and Illustrator who has designed some of the most popular large-scale sporting and corporate events in the world.