A Look Under the Rocket

It takes a whole crew to make a video of this scope.  Let’s talk to the team behind creating the Fat Brands Summit 2024 video.

Wow! This video is gorgeous. How did you develop the look and feel or style of the FAT Brands Summit 2024 video? 

Hilary Buchanan, Creative Director:  The process of defining the visual look and feel was a total blast! Pun intended. The client came to us with some beautiful mood boards filled with space-oriented, sci-fi, glowing imagery. They also made it clear from the get-go that they really wanted the piece to feel cinematic and big! From there, we put together a pitch deck with a few different concepts, including visual treatment.

The chosen approach was conveyed as “ethereal, grandiose, impressive” and a “true feast for the eyes.” The event summit already had a set of flat graphics and a distinct color palette for us to draw inspiration from, so we referenced those elements to create cohesion with the event itself. The style frame phase was critical in aligning with our partners on the final look and feel. And it’s a style frame for the books!

How did the event influence the video? Were there any constraints?

Ryan Gargac, Technical Director:   Sometimes at live events it’s hard to get everyone seated and quiet before the show starts. Our client wanted to ensure that we had a visual teaser up front that would capture the crowd’s attention. That’s why the first 15 seconds is a quick hard hard-hitting montage, its meant to stop you in your tracks. 

Ben Heuser, Animator: We often only produce our videos in just a handful of aspect ratios- 16:9, 9:16, and 1:1. Considering this project was shown on a large venue screen, we had a fun opportunity to work in the ultra-wide aspect ratio of 3:1. This also really added to the cinematic experience of the video, it was like an actual movie!

I’m curious about how much planning and research went into this video? How did you keep the look consistent when working with multiple creatives?

Hilary:  Oh gosh, we did tons of research and planning! We watched a lot of videos to understand the nature of a space launch, as well as studied the anatomy of a spacecraft. We’re not astronauts or engineers by any means, but we wanted the piece to be as believable as possible (I mean, we knew astronaut Chris Hadfield would be watching it at the summit!) Once we storyboarded the piece, we did a lot of pre-planning regarding how each scene would move, what perspective we wanted to work in, what creative conditions we needed to create up front to make each one of them work. We paid great attention to each and every frame of art. Ben spent time up front preparing files as well as a style guide so that multiple designers could cohesively work on the piece. The research and planning itself was an art!

Liz Anderson, Senior Designer: A lot of research and planning went into this video! Along with the upfront research regarding space station layouts and astronaut references, the creation of a style guide early on allowed us to work cohesively as designers. The style guide provided a color palette and textures we would use throughout the video, as well as tips to help us approach the ultimate look of each frame. We leaned heavily on the initial sketched storyboard to establish perspectives and actions. Much of the creative chaos that could have happened was mitigated by delegating individual frames to a specific designer and identifying which program (Photoshop or Illustrator) would be ideal for the creation of each asset going into animation. The upfront organization of the project folder and using templates for every frame helped speed up the process and provided the structure necessary for the overall success of the video!

Were there any new techniques or skills used to create this style? If so, what were they and how did you go about problem-solving or producing them?

Ben: We decided to use a good bit of 3D built from our 2D art in this project- exploring Adobe After Effects’ growing 3D tools. Though pretty limited and slower compared to most traditional 3D programs with having so many scenes and multiple artists working in the same files, it was beneficial to most of our animation all in our main software. Properly preparing to use these tools helped save time when it came to making adjustments, basically eliminating flip flopping between programs.

Hilary: We also played with a few scenes where we’re feeling the scene from a first person (er, astronaut) perspective. This was important to us in order to get into the body and emotions of the main character. We tried some DIY techniques with our iPhones to get a sense of some of this movement – which was honestly more funny than fruitful, but isn’t that how it goes sometimes? Ultimately there was a lot of collaboration and discussion regarding those scenes ‘til they felt right.  I’d also add that Ryan really pushed the sound overall. He even fed the voiceover through a baby monitor at one point to add distortion! I thought that was so inventive and creative. You gotta do what you gotta do to get the right effect, you know? #moviemagic

Can you tell me about the process of creating this video from a story perspective?

Hilary:  Ohh the story. That was fun. We knew up front there were some scenes the client specifically wanted to capture – like an astronaut inside a cockpit and the final moments before launch. We were instructed not to leave the planet! So it only made sense to capture the anticipatory emotions that might lead up to such an intense launch. Our team ideated scenes and vignettes that could capture a range of emotions and lead to fun, interesting visual compositions. Everybody had their hand in it – and that undoubtedly made it better. (One of my favorite moments is the time-lapse landscape scene. I mean come on! It’s so cool!) Doesn’t it all feel like a movie? That was our intent.

It certainly felt like a movie to me! It’s wonderful to learn more about the effort that went into this project. Thank you for sharing some insight into the process of creating the FAT Brands Summit 2024 video.

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