Channel surfing TV title sequences for design inspiration

As a designer, I’m always looking to stay inspired. I was recently asked to build a newsletter template for the Viking Culinary Center in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. While this project is not very complex, for me, the creative process is similar whether the job is an in-depth website design or a smaller-scale direct mail piece.

Before I start designing, I dig into my bucket of ideas to get the creative juices flowing. For this project, I decided to go beyond my typical sources of inspiration turning instead to TV title sequences.  With today’s technology, many people fast forward through TV selections not realizing they are missing out on some brilliant design concepts.  For me, TV title sequences can be great sources of typography and motion graphics inspiration.

If I were writing this in the ‘90s I would have never looked at a title sequence for inspiration. In fact, I would probably be asking, “Where is the fast-forward button?”  Take the TV show “Growing Pains” as an example. You’ll no longer see that cheesy montage of photos zooming in and out and the poorly placed typography. In today’s programming, with high-definition TV, new technologies and  innovative digital educational opportunities, title sequence designs have become much more visually pleasing.  In fact, some sequences are so well executed they’ve been awarded Emmys.

Here are brilliant executed TV title sequences:






How “Social” is Social Media?

Social media: Billions and billions served every day.

But what is social media? Sure, it’s a form of media; but is it social? And if so, how social is it and has the act of socializing changed as a direct result? Do social media users have more friends (real friends, not “friends” in Facebook lingo), and are those friendships strengthened through social media?

What we commonly refer to as social media has been around for a couple decades now. It didn’t start with Facebook and Twitter. And it didn’t start with MySpace, either. Back in the 90s before those things existed, there were AOL chat rooms and Instant Messaging. There was email, there were pagers and clunky cell phones. Before that there were other mediums to socialize on, and this is nothing new. The terminology behind it just is.

Those channels and others that have evolved from them are now referred to as social networks – from Pinterest and Twitter to YouTube and Google+. I personally have been on Facebook since October 2004, making me one of the site’s first million users. Thus, I’ve seen it evolve – for better or worse – over the years. And with it, I’ve seen my social life evolve too. It has helped me stay in touch with some whom I probably would not have otherwise. It has helped me meet people I probably wouldn’t have. On the flip side, it has hampered conversations – things I might normally ask when getting to know someone – What’s your favorite movie? Musical artist? TV show? Now, I can just look at their Facebook profile.

Be it making plans with a long-lost pal or conversing about similar interests while dressed in your PJ’s with some bloke from Down Under, social networking has expanded the idea of what being social exactly means. Looking at it from that perspective, what “social” constitutes is more subjective now than ever before. As a society, what was considered social a decade ago is not social today.  And, it won’t be “social” a decade from now. Plus, social media is still finding its footing in the social hierarchy of life. Perhaps one of my former college professors said it best when he said that tools like Facebook were “excellent for communicating with people whom you don’t want to talk on the phone with.” Isn’t that what texting is for?

Social media, in my humblest of opinions, is making us more social – just in different and new ways. It’s directly rebelling against the notion of what being social traditionally means.

The truth (or just common sense, if you prefer) is that people need people, and as people, we desire and seek out human interaction – such is natural; social media is just another tool to go about doing so. Social media is yet another distraction in a modern world chock full of ‘em. How social or not it makes a person really all depends on how they use it, and how social they are to begin with.

Omnipresent in our daily lives, social media is like gum on a sidewalk: It’s everywhere and it’s not disappearing anytime soon. Whatever role it currently plays in your life, accept the fact that it is here to stay and embrace it for the social possibilities contained therein – it can be a veritable hoot-and-a-half if you let it.

Marching to the beat of a different drummer

Unsatisfied with the 200+ offerings on television the other evening, I decided to see what I could find on YouTube. I stumbled upon “Dream Theater – The Spirit Carries On Episode 1.” I’m an eclectic music junkie and while I’ve always admired Dream Theater’s technical prowess, I can’t say I’m much of a fan. 

But, for some reason, I clicked the link.

I come to discover that Dream Theater’s original drummer of 25 years, Mike Portnoy, had left the band and that “The Spirit Carries On” consisted of three 20-minute videos in which the four remaining bandmates searched for a new drummer.

What on earth does this have to do with advertising or brand marketing?

Well, it called to mind when a brand — in this case, Dream Theater — searches to find a new agency — in this case, drummer — and the importance of chemistry in that search and eventual client/agency relationship. 

It also reinforced my belief that there is no shortage of great creative talent in the world and that each brings their unique point of view to the table — or drum kit. Most clients already know, or assume, that an ad agency produces solid creative work or they would have never reached out in the first place. 

At the end of the day, it comes down to who in your selection set feels right. 

Well, watch the videos below. Who feels right to you? Who would you have picked to be the next skin pounder for Dream Theater?