I was brought in to tinker with the episode prior to this one, to imbue it with rhythm and style more appropriate to a show for kids. What remains of the original design in that episode as well as this one is the brain/gears animation in the open and bumpers, although the original backgrounds were replaced.
On rare occasions (hopefully just rare occasions) you come across a highly descriptive paragraph in the script… and find less than highly evokative footage in your bins.
After a quick phone call to your producer to confirm that–yup–that’s all you’ve got, there’s some choices to make.
And the reason there are choices is that–especially in adventure or travel shows–usually a story’s being told; an illustration verbalized. And it’s tricky to cover that stuff.
Enter the stock photo library of your choice… and After Effects.
Of course the clock’s always an issue, but in this case I had time to find art to illustrate what was scripted as well as footage from our own archives to sweeten the deal.
On top of which I designed a little riff on “Tubular Bells” to help flesh out the creepy atmosphere I was going for.
It comes up waaaaaay more often than you’d expect (or wish against): you’re given a script, recorded VO, talking heads, and a minimal amount of B-roll. Add it all up, and it makes for not quite enough coverage to satisfy the producer’s vision. Or perhaps maybe the producer’s faith.
In this case, there was a fascinating story about an undercover CIA agent… with scant coverage for any of the stories he was telling. And how could there be? He was undercover.
Still, though, the lack of footage created a kind of black hole where interesting should’ve been. So I conjured a little (okay a lot) in order to add some mystery and intrigue.
Stock footage, satellite imagery, sound effects, motion graphics… it was all a juggling act that helped the story find its way to a local Emmy award.
The producer of this piece is Diane Duthweiler. And, of course, she loved the way it turned out.