Screenshots of four animated logos

A Guide To Sports Logo Animation

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Ever since the rise in popularity of online social networks, many professional sports brands have adopted their own digital media strategy and expanded their identity to include motion graphics and logo animation. Whether it's a 10 second video promoting an upcoming event on Instagram or a fifteen minute press conference hosted on their website, animated logos help brands draw fans in to watch their content.

You might be asking yourself, "Do I really need an animated logo for my sports brand?"

Before you answer that question though, please take some time to read this guide aimed at providing you with things to consider regarding sports logo animation.

Applications

What can I do with an animated logo?

If you are planning on creating a lot of video content, animated logos can be used in a number of ways.

1. There are the opening and closing ident clips which bookend your video and can be combined with the title of your content, sponsor logos or even contact information.

2. For content where a person is talking to the camera or interviewing someone, an animated logo could be included in a lower third overlay alongside names and other information.

3. Depending on the legibility of your logo at a small scale, you could include an animated watermark in one of the corners of your content.


But the possibilities don't end there!

4. You could arrange a group of animated logos in a tiled pattern and use them as a digital backdrop for press conferences.

5. If you have LED boundary signage, you could combine your logo with various messages aimed at generating a reaction from the crowd.

6. For sports brands hosting corporate events such as awards nights, animated logos could be used on a video wall featuring multiple screens linked together to create something memorable for your guests.

Techniques

There are many animation techniques available to you which can give life to your logo. Each technique produces different results so it helps to know which technique would be best suited to your brand.

What animation techniques can Pixel Ninja Creative provide?

Static 2D Animation

The static 2D technique is the most affordable of all as it requires very little set-up. Logos using this style are largely unaltered except for effects such as fade ins/outs, zoom ins/outs, colour changes, etc. When combining these effects with a dynamic background and optional sound effects, this style of animation becomes a perfect entry-level option for brands ready to flex their digital muscles.

Static 3D Animation

For brands looking for a premium aesthetic, the static 3D technique adds an extra level of shine and polish to your logo. Like the static 2D technique, the static 3D technique doesn't alter the logo however it does benefit from the addition of extrusions and an extra dimension. Spinning logos or passing over/through parts of them can be achieved as the camera used in the animation operates in a 3D space. Set-up time takes a little longer due to lighting the logo and camera placement. It is also worth mentioning that render time increases significantly when working with 3D and will have an impact of cost (see Costs below).

Limited Animation

A technique commonly seen in cartoons such as those produced by Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros., limited animation can also be used build character into your logo with minimal effort. This technique involves splitting parts of the logo into layers and animating them separately, such as eye or jaw movement, or a wordmark appearing. For some projects, additional parts of the logo are drawn as a sequence (various mouth shapes, open/close hands, etc,) and are animated frame by frame.

Rotoscoping

The technique of tracing over every frame of live footage to create realistic animated movement can provide unique visuals to your brand. Two well-known sources of rotoscoping include Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and the music video for a-ha's "Take on Me." What makes rotoscoping special is that you can incorporate player/athlete/mascot footage and have it either transform into your logo or provide build up to your logo. But make sure you have permission to use the live footage (see Risks below).

Sprite Animation

Pixel or sprite animation is a technique well-suited to brands built around a retro video game or pixel art aesthetic. Action key-frames of an object are drawn individually and placed into a single image file, known as a sprite sheet. The animation of that object is made when placing the sprite sheet in a predetermined position for each frame. By using a sprite sheet, it is easier to make adjustments to characters or objects as they are contained within their own file.

What are some other logo animation techniques?

Stop Motion

By incrementally moving an object and photographing each movement as a frame of animation, the stop motion technique can produce fantastic results using real-world lighting and textures. But for stop motion animation to look decent, it requires careful planning and a lot of time to set up and photograph each frame. Notable stop motion examples include the "Robot Chicken" television series and the movie, "The Nightmare Before Christmas."

Full 3D Animation

Compared to the static 3D technique which extrudes a 2D logo in a 3D space, this technique involves creating a true 3D model of your logo and animating it in a 3D environment. Think Pixar or Dreamworks. Using a 3D model allows for greater control over textures and movement and improves the quality of lighting on the surface of your logo. This technique can be costly though - depending on the detail (poly count) of the model and complexity of the animation.

Project Details

When working out the project details, one must consider the following questions:

What is the purpose of the animation?
What message is your brand trying to convey through animation?
What resolution do you need?
Will you be displaying the video on multiple monitors or just one?
Do you need sound effects or just the visuals?
What is the duration of the video?
Does the animation loop?
Do you require a particular file format?
What frame rate will your video be using?

If you can provide this information early, more time can be spent focusing on animation ideas for your logo.

Process

The process for animating a logo is similar to designing a logo.

1. It begins with a document (a project brief) outlining the details and requirements of the project - including project milestones/stages, deliverables and how the work will be carried out.
2. Using information included in the project brief, a storyboard is created and submitted to the client for approval and to help them visualise the end result.
3. Once the storyboard is approved, work begins on the animation. This includes vector file conversion for the supplied logos if necessary. Low resolution videos are submitted to the client for approval.
4. If the client requires amendments to the animation, they are made and resubmitted.
5. Finally, after the client is satisfied with the animation, a final high quality render is made and sent to the client in the format outlined in the brief.


How long does it take to complete an animation project?

For clients in need of a simple animation (such as the Static 2D technique), the entire project can be completed in a week. But for clients requiring a more dynamic or 3D animation, expect the project to take about a month, sometimes two, to complete.

Costs

What costs are associated with logo animation?

Apart from labour, which makes up most of the cost, licensing fees for audio and video footage also affect the overall cost of a project. Costs can be reduced if the project uses footage that is provided under a Creative Commons "CC0", "CC BY" or "CC BY-SA" licence but finding the perfect footage for your project takes much longer.


How much does an animated logo cost?

Prices can range between $500 to $20,000 based on project requirements and the quality of the supplied logos or any other footage. It is best to discuss your project with Pixel Ninja Creative first in order to work out suitable options for your budget.

Risks

Naturally, with any investment, there are risks involved. Logo animation is no different.

Probably the biggest risk for you would be the cost which is understandable. As long as you intend on producing enough quality content using the animated logo, you should be able to make a sizeable return on investment through your sponsorship and marketing efforts (something Pixel Ninja Creative can help you with).

Another risk is Copyright and licensing. You don't want to invest money into having an animated logo produced only to find later on from a legal representative that the background music or sound effects were used without permission. It is Pixel Ninja Creative's duty to ensure all relevant licences and permissions for footage used in your animation are obtained in the correct manner.

There is also the risk of the animation not meeting your expectations. When working with Pixel Ninja Creative, all your concerns are alleviated through ongoing discussion and careful planning, ensuring your expectations can be met.

Benefits

Enough with the risks, let's discuss some of the benefits of logo animation.

Try to notice what your peers and rivals do to promote their brand. How many of them use an animated logo in their digital and video content? It would be safe to say "not many, if any at all." That would qualify you as a brand leader in your sport. Take advantage of it.

Think of how your fans and sponsors will react. You are making the extra effort to invest in your brand because you want to reward those investing in you. Sponsors stuck with a sports brand doing nothing will soon see you doing something exciting and would be willing to jump on board.

Final Thoughts

So now that you understand a bit more about sports logo animation, it's time to go back to the original question: "Do I really need an animated logo for my sports brand?"

If your answer is "No" or "Not quite yet", that's fine. There might be other options worth exploring that are better suited to your needs.

However, if your answer is "Yes", please get in touch and let Pixel Ninja Creative help bring your sports brand into the digital world together.