Nathan Love recently joined forces with Translation and the NBA to produce a massive project promoting their 2019 Championship Series – depicting the event as an epic comic book story told in 3 stages: NBA Playoffs, a Historical look-back at NBA legends past, and the NBA Finals.
Portraying each NBA superstar as a superhero with their own unique powers, we produced 3 comic-book inspired videos promoting the 2019 NBA Championship Series reflecting the 3 stages. Since the spots were to be delivered prior to the end of the Playoffs and Finals, we had no idea which teams would make it to the end. That meant the project had to be delivered as a user friendly template that could be seamlessly updated as the series continued. This toolkit allowed for live updates and changes and the series continued.
Final Cover Designs for the 3 Stages
Assembling the Heroes
Director Ellen Su set the style for the piece and built a team of amazing artists, hand-selected from all over the world, to help bring this comic book story to life.
Early bid concept art
Building the Toolkit
The final toolkit resulted in 42 animated highlights and 20 player portraits. These were swapped in and out of the spot as the season continued, players were injured and teams were eliminated.
The first step of building the toolkit was creating heroic portraits of the NBA’s current stars. The process begins with the drawn linework, followed by color, lighting and detail.
Recognizability was very important to the NBA and their sponsors. We worked closely with our artists and the various departments at the NBA to make sure that the players, their uniforms as well as their sponsorship patches were exactly right.
Included in the toolkit were a total of 42 illustrated highlights with hand drawn 2D animated effects.
The NBA chose the live action highlight clips from their current season as well as the specific frame we would need to turn into an epic, super powered moment. Some of the challenges we faced were difficult compositions or awkward poses to work with. Often times, the most climactic moment of the clip would need to be reserved for live action, so we had to figure out how to give those frozen illustrated moments just as much energy and power.
On top of the toolkit and portraits the very last step was to create a print ad used to promote the NBA Finals 2019. It featured illustrations of some of the NBA greats as well as the beautiful championship trophy!
The client loved our work so much they came up with some additional ways to use it. The NBA launched a pop-up experience on a double decker bus covered with our artwork to hype up the Playoffs. For this project, we scaled up a number of portraits to 10k resolution so they could be printed at 65 inches tall. For one glorious week, our illustrations and animated spot hit the streets of New York City and Los Angeles.
Additionally our designs were used on apparel such as socks and t-shirts!