Moving on Up
The Museum of Design Atlanta had, for years, been a cramped and unassuming space in downtown Atlanta. Attendance was low and exhibitions were compromised by the unforgiving quarters. But all that changed when some of the Museum's true believers offered up new digs with stunning, modern architecture by landlord, Perkins + Will. Best of all the new Museum sits just across the street from the renowned High Art Museum, creating, for the first time, an art museum district in Atlanta.
In March 2011, as the debut approached, every detail was perfect: exhibit in place, invitations delivered, environmental signage hung. Then at a meeting, board member, Doug Grimmett asked the inevitable — what goes on the signs? Absent of a good answer, Grimmett (who is also Primal Screen's founder) volunteered us to create the graphics.
So with three weeks until the premiere, we set to work. We had three displays of motion graphics to create. The Patrons' Screen is a normal 16 by 9 screen in a vertical orientation. The four identical Gallery Screens are also vertical, with the addition of touch-screen interactivity. But the big monster is the Inspire Wall, a 7000 by 800 pixel image that stretches across four screens to create a mighty 64 by 9 aspect ratio.
Extending the Brand
According to Project Director, Rick Newcomb, "This was the first time MODA had used environmental signage and motion graphics for their brand. Our only creative brief was to make the imagery refined, inspirational and informative. Of course, this is our favorite kind of brief."
Since we were formulating the Museum's motion graphics standards for the first time, we began by concentrating on filling the super-wide display. We sought to capture viewer interest by creating a wide range of elements in varying lengths. Amid the exhibition announcements, event promos and Museum information we sprinkled an assortment of short IDs that deconstructed, reconfigured and celebrated the logo in imaginative and novel ways.
We also allowed "dimension" to lend resonance to our work here. The four-screen display offered opportunities to impart information in segments (as a quadriptych) or else in the form of a single image that spanned all screens. When treated as a split screen, we communicated with four discrete images or in simple four-word phrases, giving each piece its own frame. Other times, we took advantage of the extreme stretch of the image to reveal intimate close-ups of artifacts featured in shows. Similarly we defied viewers expectations by working with extremely flat 2D imagery, only to suddenly find depth when 3D appears.
Once MODA's motion graphic look began to gel, we concentrated on the other two displays. The touch-screen, Gallery displays afford attendees an opportunity to explore the sweep of Museum events and offerings in a user-directed format. All information on these screens is in a continuum with the Museum's online presence. Thus the website becomes very much an annex of the brick-and-mortar (or rather, glass-and-steel) Museum.
Rather than acting as a static plaque, the Patrons' Screen is a living (and lively) testament to the people and organizations that enable the Museum to herald the value of design. Plus, as a computer monitor, the Screen allows for easy updating of the patron roster.
Of course, the technical implementation of all three displays presented plenty of hurdles. Each screen is driven by its own computer. Those that drive the Inspire Wall are in perfect synchronization. Four-screen images allow for the breaks that the screen frames create. Another concern was the need to make a turn-key motion graphic system. The design needed to work as a viable toolkit that was compelling despite being new-operator ready. Once we completed initial design, Museum staff took the reins.
Despite the daunting scale, skin-tight schedule and limited staff availability, we handily created an ambient, full-motion brand extension for MODA. The communication is clear, compelling and varied, with no repetition over a 15 minute playing cycle. Rick Newcomb designed, directed, and animated the graphics. Patrice Needham, built the 3D. Chris Silich programmed interactive content, while Doug Grimmett strategized the bulk of the technical considerations.
Having a client with such a keen understanding of design might be intimdating. We certainly had to do our best work. Artless communication has no place in such an environment. Nor is it welcome at Primal Screen. That's why this has been a dream project for us. After all, for sixteen years our mission has been the same as the Museum's: to celebrate and share the power of design.
Doug Grimmett, Owner
Rick Newcomb, Creative Director
Ben Spangler, Copy Writer
Athalie White, Executive Producer
Chris Silich, Design and Programming
Patrice Needham, 3D Animation
Brenda Galina, Executive Director
Laura Flusche, Associate Director
Jeffrey Adler, Patron Services Team
Erin Howe, Patron Services Team
Katie Simms, Patron Services Team
Andre Swancy, Patron Services Team
PERKINS + WILL
Bruce McEvoy, Associate Principal
Keith Curtis, Associate Principal
Katie Janson, Senior Project Designer
Chris Sciarrone, Architect
Leda Walker, Creative Concierge
Justin Leggett, Digital Artist