Sammy Davis Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me

Graphics Package


American Masters



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.


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