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Art Director and Graphic Designer Tim Smyllie

Tim Smyllie has used his talent for many different projects. He’s taken the audience back in time to experience a life that humans have never seen in “Planet Dinosaur”, he’s wowed more than 20,000 screaming E-sports fans at the 2016 League of Legends World Championships at LA’s Staple Center, and he reinvigorated Europe’s most advanced automotive TV channel, Renault TV. Using his talent to enhance surreal entertaining experiences is just another day of honest work for Art Director and Graphic Designer Smyllie. The impact is often lost on him until he experiences it through the eyes of others. Toiling over every aspect of these creations and often overseeing a number of other talented professionals who he directs, frequently leads to an instance of “not seeing the forest for the trees” in Tim’s mind. When friends, family members, and clients convey their positive impressions on what he has manifested, he regains an appreciation for his work. As the lead designer, animator, and art director on the Renault TV project for Wonder Creative, Smyllie created the look that would allow RTV to realize its aspiration to transition from simply a network into a true entertainment brand.

The world has changed since 2009 when Renault TV was first launched. Transforming from a niche channel into a major player reaching a potential thirty million households, Renault TV needed a new look that communicated their core values of dynamism, playfulness, and spontaneity. On top of that, Renault understood that a larger section of the female demographic (25-44) was being attracted and the company wanted to align their personality in a way that welcomed this desired audience to their programming. This was essential to Smyllie and his team’s approach in fashioning this new identifying look. With the goal of creating a wide appeal that would be adaptable and appealing to a variety of viewers while still cementing a personality, Tim’s work began.

The team consisted of Smyllie (as the sole designer and animator) along with Tim Platt and Paula Williams (the CEOs of Wonder Creative) who acted as client liaison and the final creative oversight. Smyllie designed and created three distinct idents that for RTV while Platt and Williams designed the logo. The look that Tim [Smyllie] created for the idents formed the basis for the brand aesthetic of the channel. Smyllie relates, “We all worked closely with each other. They briefed me in general terms and gave me a sense of what they thought it should be and what the client wanted. Ultimately though, they didn’t know exactly what they wanted and entrusted me to have the creative vision to push the project forward. I started playing with simple abstract forms, which they seemed to respond well to in the initial round of creative development. Their style of direction was one based on trust. They didn’t stifle my creative impulses with unnecessarily detailed design notes as they knew from working with me before. My design chops were strong enough that I would always address design issues without them needing to be pointed out. Their direction was more top level, making sure I was meeting the client’s needs and overseeing the progress to guarantee we had three distinct idents. They gave some very helpful suggestions on how to differentiate the IDs and what the top level narrative could be for them. It was both a very creative and enjoyable working environment.”

The team’s direction was to capture the spirit of Renault in an abstract way using only shape, color, and movement. By redesigning the RTV logo and placing it at the heart of the idents, it became the catalyst and starting point for all navigational elements. Using the square of the logo, Tim built abstract patterns and environments. His vision was to use these patterns and environments to evoke a feeling. Although abstract, their forms and motion captured the spirit and attitude of the channel, taking the viewer on a journey. ‘Journey’ was a common theme for most of the shows on RTV, which Tim recognized as an appropriate concept for the idents. Once the patterns were established, they formed the main beats for these idents which Smyllie seamlessly transitioned through each pattern to take the viewer back to the logo. This process was repeated for each ident. The resulting look was clean, concise, and beautiful. It retained a warmth and humanity through fluid, fun, and energetic movement with a very subtle use of audio. All of the animation and motion theory came from Tim (motion theory refers to consistency of how things move onscreen for any branded element. Every brand has design rules to maintain consistency. This helped to create a unified brand for RTV). Wonder Creative’s Tim Platt professes, “We were so grateful that Tim was available to work with us on this project. RTV is now a truly beautiful TV channel. Only Tim could have gotten it to that level in that time frame. Working with him is always a treat. His work ethic and very high level of design he possesses elevate every project he touches. RTV is one of our favorite projects here at Wonder; we are very proud of the final result and owe Tim a lot for the commitment and dedication he put into this project for us.”

The design which Tim created (with the team) is still in use today at Renault TV and has proven itself to stay contemporary with changing times. Renault, Wonder Creative, and Smyllie all confirm their continued satisfaction with it. Tim admits that this is not always with the case with him as he often notices things he would like to adjust on his prior work (a trait of most perfectionists and artists). In contrast, the work that he did for Renault TV is one which he feels an affinity for to this day; a factor he credits to Wonder Creative for allowing him to exercise his full creativity without constant micromanaging and oversight. Creating something that doesn’t feel dated or redundant over time is difficult to achieve. The fact that this work still stands up today is rewarding to Smyllie as well as those whom he was associated with on the project. Paula Williams (CEO and Co-founder of Wonder Creative) states with conviction, “Tim created a timeless piece of animation for the idents. Their fluidity and elegance delights and engages the viewer. He raised the bar for RTV. I was impressed by the way he approached the creative development stage. He netted out with some beautiful style frame boards. Once I saw those I knew this was going to be a special project. The way he brought the boards to life was mastery. The narrative for each ident was cleverly done. I’m not surprised the brand is still going strong today and the client was so overwhelmed.”

Art Director and Graphic Designer Tim Smyllie Reviewed by JaamZIN on 7:04:00 PM Rating: 5
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