Volume 11

November 17, 2017

American Music Awards

Promo Package and Launch Spot

Earlier this fall, ABC came to us looking for a promo package for the American Music Awards. The star-studded awards show has thrived and honored musicians for decades, while always staying fresh and exciting.

AMA Design References

This year, we were asked to create a package that could live on their social & broadcast spots. For this package, we explored realms of neon & sound. The electricity generated from audio waves and the color of the AMA’s past ceremonies drove our reference deck and we went after 3 directions: projections, neon, and audio waves.

3 Concepts / 4 Boards

After presenting the 4 boards, we all agreed that the idea of visualizing sound in the reimagined “audio wave” world was what we wanted to go after. Our powerhouse 3D designers/animators jumped right in and owned the space, ultimately rendering a flexible 3D world that ABC could use in all the promos they launched.

AMA Promo Open Animation
AMA Promo Interstitial Animation

Shortly following the delivery of the AMA show package, ABC came back to us looking for a completely original live action, 3D spot to announce this year’s show.

Object & Rendering References
Color & Lighting References

With a tight turnaround and a big creative ask, we were thrilled to be on the same page creatively and have our pockets filled with talented artists who could come together and not only pull it off, but take it into the magical realm it deserved.

AMA 2017 Launch Spot
Launch Spot Boards

We developed style frames and hand drawn boards, allowing us to conduct a live action one-day shoot over at Bravo Studios in Manhattan. We shot the hands on green at 6K so we could punch in and roto the hands to clean up any green spill and ensure a smooth composite.

Shoot at Bravo Studios
Exploding 3D Objects

As we worked on the 2D composition, tracking, and the integration of the hands, we rendered out 3D objects, type, and lighting to create our enchanting world.

In the end, we delivered a modular toolkit that allowed the folks at ABC to produce multiple spots and keep the surprise of talent reveals alive. Everyone who comes out of the box will all perform LIVE on stage for this weekend’s big night — so be sure tune in this Sunday! Thanks again to the focused, creative and dedicated team at ABC.


November 17, 2017

Sammy Davis Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me

Graphics Package

The folks at American Masters came to us with a PBS documentary spanning the life of Sammy Davis Jr.. The film visits his role in the Rat Pack, his career as a singer and dancer, his comedy routines, and his many deep and true relationships.

Scene from the opening prologue sequence for Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me

The documentary takes a tone that’s tactile and authentic. We had beautiful photography and archival footage of all shapes and sizes to use as platforms to portray Sammy’s life.

We gathered references and reflected on what truly defined the time and essence of his legacy. One of our top trusted designers took all the inspiration and resources we gathered and came up with the perfect look. We went from one round of design into full blown animation.

Original Styleframes by Erika Lee

Enter Casey Drogin. He stepped right in with skillful execution of the style we’d wanted to achieve from the get-go. His animations took the project to the next level, and he ultimately developed a 2D animation technique that was recreated and molded into anything that came our way.

We used optical flares and double exposure to showcase the photographs of Sammy and the women he loved, creating a dreamy and ethereal atmosphere.

We worked closely with the producers at American Masters to capture the beauty and quality of the Novak photos — ultimately, we kept the sequence simple, using flashes, subtle light leaks and simplified motion to bring the focus to the photos themselves.

The telegrams were sent from all over the world to Sammy after his accident, where he lost his eye. We wanted these to feel personal, and used quick movements, built on names, and comped the photos to achieve the personal touches.

In the end, we created a mixture of sequences, lower thirds, chapter headings, an opening prologue and the main title reveal — all packaging the documentary up for its debut at this year’s Toronto Film Festival.

Main Title Animation

Thanks again to our great partners over at American Masters and PBS for the honorable opportunity.


November 17, 2017

Artist Spotlight: Casey Drogin

Designer / Animator

Casey Drogin has proven time and again that his steady eye for detail, strong problem-solving skills, and aesthetic insight make him an artist to rely on. As a freelance designer and animator, we’ve been lucky enough to bring him onto projects ranging from Sammy Davis Jr., TCM, to Meet the Press Film Fest.

Casey sets himself apart with his easy-going attitude, quick and organized work flow, sense of analog motion, and most of all his ingenuity. He has a true hand that is reflected in every piece he creates. We’re grateful for his collaboration and excited to showcase his work.

Q&A with Casey Drogin -

When did you first realize you wanted to be an animator?

Monster movies, definitely. When I was a kid I watched the original King Kong and Godzilla on VHS. My little mind was blown. I had to know how they did it, and read up on stop-motion miniatures and legends like Ray Harryhausen. The whole process struck me as the coolest magic trick in the whole world. I still have those King Kong and Godzilla posters framed on my wall

Sammy Davis Jr. Animation by Casey Drogin

What makes you love what you do?
I get fired up when I can work different styles and genres at a rapid-fire pace. Shifting gears from a death metal music video to a commercial is always a fun challenge and keeps me from pigeonholing myself.

What perspective do you bring to the design/graphics world and what makes you different?
My love for learning and asking questions. A lot of artists, especially young ones, think you need to show up and know everything. But I get a thrill from playing detective in other people’s project files and learning how someone else might solve a problem. It all helps me do the best work I can.

How long have you been doing what you do?
I’ve been drawing my entire life and started animating around the age of 14. During college, I started working part-time at a small motion shop in Manhattan. It went belly-up the week I graduated, which scared the living shit out of me. However, I’m grateful for it in hindsight. That initial fear fired me up to work incredibly hard right out of school and not take anything for granted.

MTP Film Fest Animation by Casey Drogin

What were you working on before coming to BigStar?
I recently animated a scene for Marvel’s new film, Thor Ragnarok. I’m also a lifelong comic book junkie so it was a nice opportunity to see how the superhero sausage gets made.

What/who has influenced you the most?
My high-school art teacher, Mr. P, was a Vietnam Vet who had previously taught art to convicts in prison. Needless to say, he had no problem tearing us a new one. It was a hardcore class. Three hours a day, five days a week (summers included) for four years. For the first two years, we weren’t allowed erasers.

Assignments included having to scour the streets for roadkill to draw or tearing up our own drawings if they didn’t meet the bar for quality. Over the years, Mr. P instilled a level of quality control and risk to my process that I still draw from, no pun intended.

TCM Animation by Casey Drogin

What are you most passionate about professionally? What most excites you about your work & the contribution you can make?
I get excited by projects that combine different styles and techniques. It’s always fun to combine hand-drawn animation with 3D compositing and watercolor textures and sound design. The whole thing feels much more organic when the project isn’t bound by a certain technique. My favorite painting style is impasto so I try and bring that same level of texture to my work.

Shifting gears from a death metal music video to a commercial is always a fun challenge and keeps me from pigeonholing myself.

Do you have any side-projects you continue to work on?
I’ve been doing lectures and writing a pitch to NYU for mid-level animation students called “Animate your Career.” The current roster of classes are hyper-focused on craft and push kids to work for large studios. My course would focus on teamwork with an emphasis on workflow and business skills. This would give kids a stronger ability to enter the industry as independent creatives.

I also just finished a hand-drawn animation for a documentary on the opioid crisis. We’re in the festival process now, but I’m always excited by the opportunity to branch out to documentary.

Casey Drogin - Personal Work

How do you want to be remembered?
Professionally, as someone who pushed himself and his work. Personally, as someone who could laugh at himself.

How do you determine the success of a piece?
I derive success from what I learned in the process.


Volume 10

Next Project: Volume 10
Telling the Bigger Story