Creative freedom. What’s not to like? Nothing, according to the creative powers that be at Minneapolis-based Gasket Studios, which just completed a new logo animation for Activision and its re-launched brand: Sierra Games.
The logo animation was unveiled at Gamescom 2014 when Activision announced the newest Sierra Games, a re-imagined King’s Quest as well as Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions.
When Activision asked the Gasket creative team to provide concepts for the new logo animation for Sierra, “They basically said, ‘Let’s see what you’ve got,’” reports Gasket founder/creative director Greg Shultz.
The team began by doing in-depth research of all pre-existing logos of the Sierra Entertainment brand from its origins and approached the project from a storyteller’s perspective, focusing on Sierra’s history of stories that involve adventure.
Shultz and team knew that’s where their focus had to be. He also knew that this type of “just run with it” direction doesn’t come long every day. “It’s not often a client lets us just come up with something without ANY guidelines up front, so it was very liberating and allowed us to really research the brand and what they used to represent so that we could create an animation that was both dynamic and interesting while fitting within the spirit of the established brand experience.”
Gasket started with a windswept environment. The viewer is then introduced to a character who leads them deeper into the scene. “The revelation of the mountain draws the viewer in, just as it does our adventurer,” explains Shultz. “He rushes onward, leaving us to wonder what lies ahead. The iconic Sierra logo is revealed.”
That “wondering what lies ahead” theme took on a life of its own on the Internet, quickly getting about several hundred thousand views across different venues. Commenters speculated whether it was a teaser not just for the publisher, but a new game altogether.
Shultz also notes that the Activision/Sierra logo animation was a project that touched each and every artist’s hands at Gasket. After creating the concept and the style frames: “This project moved quickly into production,” he explains. “It was an effort that involved the entire Gasket team, from background matte painting by look development artist Tiffany Borchardt, animation by Brad Jacobson, modeling and rigging by Alex Boatman, simulations and atmosphere development by John Zilka and heavy reliance on the expertise of Justin Greiner serving as lead VFX artist.”
Gasket used PC workstations, including a renderfarm, running Maya for all modeling, rigging, lighting, rendering and simulations. They used Photoshop for texturing and matte painting as well as creating style frames. After Effects was the compositing software.