Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Case Study 01 - Filmmakers Help logo

When creating a logo, the conscientious designer remembers basic principals like scalability, ease of reproduction, relative cost of reproduction, and most of all, simplicity. A successful design will be instantaneously recognizable and memorable. Considerations for the designer in the digital age also include creating the original in a format that can easily scale... up! Scaling down is simple and throwing away information is always easier than creating it from assumptions (B-spline, etc.) or scratch. Keeping that in mind, I try to create the bulk of the logo in vector format before moving to Photoshop to twiddle with other design principals.

A while back, Filmmakershelp.com contacted me to create a logo that would represent their business with a professional manner and still feel 'hip' to a younger generation. The logo for Filmmakers Help offered me many options to play with during the creation. The profession is already filled with so many iconic shapes, e.g., film reels, filmstrip, cameras, lenses, and even the famous (sometimes infamous) Director's chair. The word 'help' conveys need, and implies an answer to a question may be found. The symbol of the question mark was bandied around more than any other image or symbol. It was also decided that an actual logo was desired than just a type treatment and possible image accent, such as a filmstrip at the side or bottom of the typeface, so there goes using filmstrip.

But wait! Filmstrip is so cool. There's a deep feeling of reverence that filmstrip will always convey... it's the symbol of The Giants of Yore. These were the people you wanted to be like. They made you think of being a director instead of a race car driver or astronaut. They also used a technology that was prohibitively expensive to the average Joe. Nonetheless, the image of filmstrip persisted.

Days later, while poking around on digg's Design section, I came across an article about an old tool in Illustrator being used in a new, creative way. Epiphany. The proverbial light bulb was more like a flood light. And my dreams of wanting to use filmstrip came along for the sweet ride.

Using the Extrude & Bevel tool in the Effects -> 3D menu, I loaded the basic curve of a question mark, mapped the filmstrip texture in the Map Art section, and voilà! Now I've got filmstrip shaped like a question mark and a client pleased as punch.

While a shaded, realistic-looking logo was desired, the end result scales well when reduced to black and white. Judge for yourself.

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