Common marketing strategy dictates that a campaign of ten spots is better than a single spot repeated ten times or than ten unconnected spots. The argument is obvious: A campaign reinforces the marketing message (more than ten unrelated spots could do), but without getting annoying (like the same spot repeated ten times would do).
Fuel TV’s audience, however, would be turned off by the mere smell of a marketing strategy. For the launch of the station, we wrote and produced ten different station identifiers with ten completely different looks, vibes, narratives and messages.
Techniques range from film and video to 3D animation, from cel and stop-motion animation to slide shows of stills and Quicktime VRs. Some of them are funny and cute, others are just plain beautiful, some are contemplative, others are parodic and referential. Indeed, the main point of this first round was to introduce a spectrum as wide as possible. Since there is no overriding campaign strategy to the series of identifiers, they can be constantly reinvented, changed, evolved or expanded. The concept cannot go out of style.
We also came up with a special version of station identifiers is what we call signature IDs. Inspired by the idea of signature skateboard decks created by or for athletes, these IDs can serve many purposes: To associate the channel with a well-known athlete, to introduce an exciting and appropriate artist to the audience, or to serve as a new and exciting outlet for athletes who express themselves in art or music.
The first three of these signature IDs were produced by Brand New School in collaboration with Andy Jenkins (Art Director for the Girl and Chocolate skate labels), Doug Aitken (video artist and director) and Chris Pastras (skateboarder and illustrator), as well as with our own star illustrator Saiman Chow. Since we started the series, Fuel TV has commissioned pieces directly from artists or produced them in collaboration with other design studios without changing the strategy.
The only consistent element in all these IDs is the end card, which features a massive Fuel logo as well a line of type that can be used to title or to tag the piece.
Fuel TV is the only 24/7 action sports cable and satellite network in the U.S. Brand New School designed the station’s on-air identity as well as this series of station identifiers.
These are the pieces:
This station ID follows a mysterious superhero skating through an urban landscape. Every time he jumps or touches the ground, fluid, colorful shapes come out of his board, flow around his body or project on the walls. He slides on invisible rails, he jumps through fire, he teleports, he seems to be everywhere at the same time. To produce this moody piece inspired by Manga videos, director Jens Gehlhaar filmed Chocolate rider Scott Johnston with two 24P cameras on location in Los Angeles, and added 3D- and cel-animated graphics in post.
Inspired by Seventies airbrush art on surfboards, the sides of vans and rock album covers, director Jonathan Notaro conceived this magic wonderland where eagles fly over ancient landscapes, bikes exhaust beautiful paint, where unicorns gallop over fire-engulfed swords and skaters ride the edge of a rainbow. The piece was produced with a mix of live action, 3D and lots of digital airbrushing. It also had the team at Fuel TV going frame by frame through the mountain ranges of naked girls on the quest for body parts that are not included in their voluntary broadcast standards.
This parody of a late-night informercial finds amazing coincidences between a style guide of Motocross tricks and the Indian Kamasutra book describing sexual positions. The story around this hilarious hybrid is set in an Indian bedroom, and features an Indian host named Harshal Moto who tries to push a video called “Motosutra” on the audience. Harshal is accompanied by a pretty blonde and her ignorant boyfriend who practices positions half-naked on a stationary motorbike. Cut into his sales pitch are testimonials by satisfied customers. The spot was shot with two video cameras on a sound stage.
This piece is a breathtaking point-of-view trip into an ocean, over a mountain slope, and through an urban landscape. It’s a slightly surreal, hallucinatory experience in three very distinct environments that acknowledges just how integral terrain is to action sports. Entirely created in CG, the design is highly stylized; the ocean looks more like a Japanese print than a video game, there are flowers growing and butterflies flying on the mountain, and the skate city has decks rising instead of high-risers. The dreamlike atmosphere is underscored by ambient, tenderly flowing synthesizers courtesy of Machine Head.
Sean Dougherty’s B-movie takes the old “Earth-is-taken-over-by-gigantic-ants” premise and provides a surprising turn. First, we see huge annoying ants taking over what looks like Los Angeles at the foot of Mount Fuji. They are building mounds of mudhills all over the city as part of their network, they are throwing 1980s sedans through the air and freaking out Chinese business men. Then, a crew of bikers put “Fuel” into their tanks and gear up. As they are jumping the ant hills like mad men, their bike’s exhaust pipe crop dust the ants to their death, leaving them twitching on their backs.
“Lost at Sea”
On a beautiful day in a fairy-tale surf spot, a surfer hunk falls into the water and is knocked unconscious. Colorful blood spills through the water, when a gorgeous mermaid discovers him and takes him with her. She shows him the wonders of the underwater world. They travel together forever and discover endless love in a water color dream world. If that sounds cheesy to you, you should know that this story was written by three dudes at 2am. The music is just as beautifully romantic, courtesy of Echo Park.
These are four little stories about a poor gopher asking for respect from extreme athletes. The only identifiers in the series remotely touching on a sensitive political issue, they are real slow pans of a beautiful site covered by animated doodles. A few seconds into this mesmerizing visual, an athlete flies through the scenery, forcing our gopher friend to come out of his hole and demand peace. It was never resolved in any of our meetings how a gopher could survive on the ocean ground or whether the boom box is the athlete’s or the gopher’s. It is nevertheless a successful short film that gets even better when watching it under the influence.
Jens Gehlhaar & Jonathan Notaro
Craig Houchin, Josh Libitsky, Mark Groeschner
Shot on stages in Los Angeles and New York, and on location in Los Angeles
Shot on location in Los Angeles
Pat Notaro, Gustavo Oliva
Won Hee Lee, Pete Conlan, Saiman Chow, Brian Won
Black Mesa, “All the Same”
Doug Lee, Brian Won
Freur, “Doot Doot”
Jens Gehlhaar, Ben Go & Rob Feng
Pat Notaro, Gustavo Oliva
Andy Kim, Mark Kim, Adrian Sairin, Han Lee
Mike Stern, Joao Amorim, Nicck Bruno, David Lobser, Reeves Blakeslee
Doug Lee, Brian Won
h3 Respect Series
Ben Go, Ludovic Schorno
Sang Lee, Taizo Hazama
Fuel TV, Los Angeles
83rd ADC Annual Awards: Distinctive Merit
365: AIGA Annual Design Competition 25
AIGA “Grown in California” 2004
California Design Biennial 2004
BDA Design Awards 2004 (2 Gold, 2 Silver)
BDA Design Awards 2005 (1 Gold, 1 Bronze)