13 October 2007

[design, notebook] KATU New Logo Meta: This About That

1009. From the ZehnKatzen Notebooks:

After the last week of logo excitement with the KATU redesign it occurred to us that there are a lot of issues that ought to be noted in passing. Let's get started.

Schoolkid Excitement:

It has become obvious to me, in reading the last several missives on the KATU redesign, that I could be accused of gushing like a schoolgirl over it. On the other hand, it's not going to please or excite everyone.

And that's no sin. Everyone cares about different things. If we all cared about the same things all the time, it would be quite a boring world.

But I care and get excited and sometimes even passionate about the visual, and sometimes the audio (I hang on with the audio by the skin of my teeth, in the interests of disclosure). That–and my 2 years at PCC and my Graphic Design degree–is one big reason why I fancy myself as a designer at this point (sure, the paycheck hasn't arrived yet, but I'm not giving up there).

I completely dig when color, design and sound get you on a gut level, take you up, and get you excited. The difference between the old KATU indentity and the new one is night and day to me; the old one was locked down static–the graphic of the old logo assembling itself actually had a passive look in comparison, because since the 2 was reversed out of its background, it's what was left over after all the action happened. Moreover, the typeface used was a sans-serif with the feeling of Helvetica. Helvetica isn't a bad font, but it's the textbook example of a font that's been overused to the point that it has no intellectual or emotional weight to carry. It doesn't grab you. It doesn't move you.

In comparison, the new identity uses warm colors and motion–two attributes which suggest energy. News broadcasts have to work hard to compete these days, and while an energetic, animated opening (and chyrons) won't solve the problems of content or news gathering (if indeed any exist), it sure doesn't hurt the product.

If they need a dash and a splash, I say go for it (within limits–I still think KPTV's LIVE remotes from the control room and the parking lot from in front of the KIGR News Van KPTV Mobile Newsroom are silly (nothing personal, KPTV–it doesn't stop us from watching you and we love Good Day Oregon...but that is so another subject...) ). KATU's new graphic look goes for it in, what I believe, just the right way–and comes up with a real dynamic logo, the "Fisher Flag" and the stylized "2" giving the whole logo dynamic tension to begin with.

So, to bring this free range commentary back to ground, let's compare:



The bold majuscule, the stylized 2, the flag behind the 2...simply brilliant, I think. What's not to like? I'm also a fan of the new tag line.

Of course, I must say that this whole chain of thought would never have been established had KATU not changed its logo at all. The old KATU logo and look worked and worked very well indeed, and certainly satisfied KATU–it was in full effect for something for the better part of a decade. You can't argue with success. If you're going to update and you want that dash and splash, though, there's a way to go about it, and I think KATU's identity designers nailed it.

The old identity works. The new identity works. The change was a timely one.

And all that, I find exciting. Over at OMI, the discussion was joined, and someone rightly asked "does it really matter?". Yes, I think it does. No, it's not the whole newscast; if you (the editorial "you", here) think that there's a problem with the production, then a new graphics package won't solve that problem. We are a visual culture, now more than ever, though, and KATU provides a very polished answer to that ineffable question.

Tech Talk

The need to document what I saw generated the question of how to capture it. My solution was originally to create animated graphics in Photoshop CS3 (which has, MCP-like, assimilated the animation and web optimization functions of Adobe ImageReady–the animation palette and the Save For Web dialog look as though they were transferred straight over from that discontinued application). A bit of experimentation with Flash CS3 revealed that it is much better at creating short movies from a stack of screenshots than I could from PS, however; as long as the series is named in a standard sequential format.

The Mac makes it insanely easy to make snapshots of the screen. CTRL-Shift-4, draw a box, and it appears on the desktop as "PictureXX", Drag all these to a separate folder, and tell Flash to look there for an Import to Stage, it's smart enough to see the sequence and will import them all in order (on an OK click). You get a line of keyframes, one for every imported graphic. Fiddle with the output settings and FPS and–shipoopi!–you have a QuickTime movie.

But taking snapshot after snapshot of a movie I'm constantly click-stopping is tedious. So I looked into screencast software. So far I've tried several demos, and I've installed an app called "Copernicus" which is free. SnapzPro also includes the ability to suck up the system audio to, which is killer.

The problem is, none of them work when YouTube converts them to video. SnapzPro delivers great quality video, but whe resultant YouTuber drops so much of the video stream it's even more jumpy than the slideshows I've so far created. Copernicus's video output is of a high quality, and I can choose from an amazing range of codecs (and it's free) but when it gets processed on YouTube, no matter how big the file or what codec I use (yes, we tried MPEG-4 and Sorenson) I get two seconds of very , very lovely random color mosaic.

So, for now, It's screenshots away. I am going to plump for QuickTime Pro so I can edit sound into my videos (Flash is, of course, supremely unequipped to help me in this department, at least as far as I can see right now), and at $29.99 it's a comparatively economical choice.

I'll continue to search, and what will win me over is whatever can get translated to YouTube. Can I afford it? We'll know when we get there.

There Is Another System

It has been brought to my attention that there are actually other TV stations in the Portland market (I know!) . And, despite my distraction with the Inland Empire side of the Flag I actually live in Portland (or so Google Street View might tell you). So, to keep my critical eye in, I'll take a look round at the other Portland TV stations, after a few palette cleansers here I'll come up with my below-my-station (so to speak) analyses of those.

Semi-apropos to that, we find that some clever netizen has updated KATU's logo with a screenshot of the current open on KATU's Wikipedia page. Good on them.

Open Memo To KATU

Dudes? You need to get this up on your building. Seriously.

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The Portland Writer said...

Glad you like the new graphics, although I had no part in them whatsoever, being just a web grunt and all. As for the building... we all hate it and and that includes the antiquated lettering on the outside of it. Every time I look at the building I think I should be wearing bell bottoms and a butterfly collar. It's embarrassing and unprofessional, but it's what we're stuck with. And don't even get me started on the lack of windows.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

You do web for KATU? Man, I envy your gig...

Anyhow, yes, if my schoolgirly gushing hasn't made it abundantly clear, I loves the new KATU graphics. I wish I could have a word with the people who did them and ask them what their creative process was. That would be insightful...and riveting.

WRT the KATU studio, I've got nothing to add to your views. The outside could do with an update, yes...when I was at the blogger meetup, I did get a chance (thanks to an extremely gentlemanly sound fella) to see some other parts of the building, and I was quite surprised to find how far back that structure goes...for quite a few years before it was a TV center, it was a bakery, apparently.

Maybe it's time for a new building for KATU (subliminal message for KATU execs: put the new logo on the outside...), but if they ever do, I hope they don't do what KPTV did, and move out to Beaverville–not because I have anything about B'ton, mind, but I remember KPTV getting this gorgeous, state-of-the-art center at the foot of SE Caruthers–right on the river, beautiful signature spot, big bright "Oregon's 12" logo on the top, kind of like a lighthouse–only to have it move out just a few years later when the FOXification of 12 was complete.

I don't know about you, but that actually hurt to watch them leave that building behind. Such a beautiful place in a beautiful spot. Such a waste.