In the LED display industry, we use the term content on a regular basis to describe what we show on our displays. Generally speaking, this includes still graphics, animations, videos, scoring information, and stats.
Content creation is an art form, and many individuals make their living using computer software to produce artwork or content to be viewed by an audience where LED displays are used. Daktronics has an award-winning team of dedicated Digital Artists who make up our Creative Services department; designing content for our clients in the Live Events and sports industry. Andy Smith has been a graphic artist with Daktronics since 1999 and has produced content for all levels of sporting clients and venues.
The Control Panel: How long have you been designing content for LED displays and what got you into it?
Andy Smith: I have been designing content for LED displays for 17 years and began working in the industry as a student in college studying graphic design. I did not have any prior experience in animation, but was very intrigued by it.
What makes good content?
Content qualifies as good when it properly communicates to, and has the intended effect, on the audience, has excellence in execution, all while maintaining the personality of the client brand.
Describe your process for developing a piece or multiple pieces of content for a client.
The process always begins with gaining an understanding of the client and their vision for the project. This includes researching things such as their history and branding, but also includes the type of venue and displays that the content will be playing on, which has a major effect on the direction of the content design. The style development is built upon this research, which sometimes begins with group brainstorming sessions, but most of time is accomplished by looking through inspirational material in order to spark some ideas. Once the style direction is decided, then an initial style frame will be developed to give the client an opportunity for feedback before moving ahead with any animation. Once approved, the animation begins. The process ends with final approval of the animation.
What are some of the challenges you face along the way?
One challenge of creative work is that there is never a definitive solution to reach the goal. There is always a level of subjectivity to any solution that you present to the client, which makes the ability to explain creative concepts a necessary skill. Another challenge inherent in creative work is the technical expertise and continual learning required to maintain effectiveness in the marketplace.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
One of things that I’ve enjoyed about my job throughout the years is the variety of work and clients that I’ve been able to work with. The variety of display formats in the LED industry, and the variety of clients we work with at Daktronics, always keeps the work fresh and exciting.
Where can readers go for inspiration for creating their own content?
There are so many places to go for inspiration when creating content. From nature to architecture to any type of artwork, inspiration can sometimes come from unlikely places. However, other obvious routes for inspiration would be researching what successful live event venues are producing, as well as analyzing impressive work done for broadcast or film by other studios. Some sites that I frequent for inspiration are motionographer.com, behance.net, artofthetitle.com, as well as following studios/artists I admire.
What’s your favorite piece that you’ve designed/helped design for Daktronics and why?
The projects that I have the opportunity to work on that I get the most satisfaction from are projects in which I lead the art direction for an entire package of content for a client. I enjoy the style development process and creating a look for the content that the client can be excited about and proud of. Some of the recent clients that I’ve done art direction for are the Cleveland Browns, University of Alabama, Boston College, Stanford University, Houston Astros, US Naval Academy and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Visit the Daktronics Creative Services YouTube channel to view demo reels and project highlights from Andy and the rest of the Daktronics artists.