Thursday, September 22, 2011

Posters for Tornado Alley

Have you ever looked at your vehicle and thought:

"I wonder if I could drive that into a tornado and survive"?

I have (yes I'm serious) although my thoughts are more fueled by curiosity then science. For Discovery's Storm Chasers star Sean Casey and the researchers of VORTEX2 it's a reality. Armed with a camera and research equipment, they drive customized vehicles into the heart a tornado in the IMAX film Tornado Alley. If you haven't seen it, I definitely recommend it.

When Big Screen Films contacted me with an opportunity to create an infographic poster for the feature, I jumped right on board! The idea was to diagram the two heavily modified research vehicles, highlighting their key features of science and survival. The kicker with these was I had an opportunity to see both vehicles in person, and meet their teams to answer my questions.

The first vehicle up was Sean Casey's Tornado Intercept Vehicle (TIV-2) – a vehicle modified to park inside a tornado and film with an IMAX camera. Armed with a camera and sketchbook, I met the team at The Museum of Natural History in Manhattan for a early screening of Film, spending some time climbing around the truck and talking to the crew.

Once the movie was over, driver and team crew member Marcus Gutierrez took me for a ride through NYC, which was definitely one of the highlights of the gig. Living here for almost 8 years, I know there are few things that turn the heads of New Yorkers, but people literally ran out of the road when this beast drove through. I'm not sure what rates they charge storm chasers for parking in the city:

A few days later I visited VORTEX 2s Doppler on Wheels (DOW) vehicle at the Liberty Space Center in Jersey City, NJ. The DOW 7 team was extremely helpful answering my questions and curiosities. 

After seeing both vehicles in person and taking hundreds of photos and notes, I immediately got to sketching our layout. The original plan was to put both vehicles in the same poster. I really wanted to have a few pop-out details along with my cutaways, to pull the viewer into the key features.

Since the TIV and DOW teams were doing the copy, I made room with dummy type to fill so they can work while I render the art. I find this is a tactic when the text is coming from an outside source, allowing the design and art to progress while giving others time to write. Its not an exact science, but in most cases there is usually only minor cutting and design adjustments at the end of the process. I feel the key to this being successful is having detailed rough drawings, so clients can see exactly what we want to show. The tighter rough will also save time with edits later in the process, since the experts will see if something is off early in the game. When this is noted I adjust my art as I work. Both teams did an excellent job with the text, making the information brief, yet adding details that are interesting to readers. 

Working on the final art. I always say, there's no such thing as too much reference:

As the pieces come together, I replace the rough sketches with the finals:

Andy Wood had the idea of illustrating our headline, which I dove right into. I think it definitely adds a nice touch to the piece:

 We also had the opportunity to break both trucks into separate posters, which made two nice options and aired out our layouts a bit.

And there you have it… Illustrating an IMAX movie poster. I've had a lot of cool gigs over the last ten years, but this one is definitely up near the top. A special thanks to Big Screen Film's producer Andy Wood and Director of Strategic Partnerships Deborah Raksany. They are an absolute pleasure to work with! I'd also like to thank the TIV2 crew – Sean Casey, Marcus Gutierrez and Brandon Ivey and VORTEX2 DOW team for showing me the vehicles and putting up with my infographics nerd questions.


Lisa said...

Hello Mike,
Do you have your illustrations of the TIV for sale anywhere? They're awesome and I'd love a couple for two extremely obsessed 7 year old boys for Christmas if they're available.



Lisa said...
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