Fresh From The Field – Patriot Brains opening title – Pixelpush
Fresh from the Field is a weekly article series sharing the fresh and inspiring work of our Design Assembly community.
Utilising wacky, miniature puppets and some of the most highly debated Australia/New Zealand cultural references, the team at Pixelpush share their design thinking behind the 20 second title sequence created for Patriot Brains.
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“The show that laughs in the face of conflict” as appropriately described by Bill Bailey.
Patriot Brains is a New Zealand comedy panel game show, airing on TVNZ 2 in New Zealand and SBS Viceland in Australia since April 2021. The show, hosted by English comedian Bill Bailey, focuses on the trans-Tasman rivalry by pitting two teams of three comics from Australia and New Zealand against each other. (from Wikipedia)
The Pixelpush team was called in by Nigel McCulloch from The Down Low Concept and tasked to develop a 20 second title sequence that conveys the show’s humour. With quite a good length of time to work with, we needed to come up with a concept that is fast-paced, recognisable, and culturally referential.
This was a good learning opportunity for us to get deep into both cultures, so the team had to dive deep into the history books to gather a diverse range of reference material. We had to look far and wide to feature a mix of common stereotypes and lesser known trivia to keep the video interesting.
The design response
The title sequence highlights the sibling rivalry between the two countries as something so ingrained as knowing your ABCs. The letter K could stand for Kiwi in New Zealand, and Koala in Australia. With so many cultural crossovers, we picked out a few of the most highly debated subjects to feature – lamingtons, jandals, flat whites – and designed our own trans-Tasman themed alphabet chart. We used more earthy, vintage colours to emulate the aged print look that complements the mixed media style throughout the animation, while the cute characters help make the humour more quirky than aggressive.
We created custom typeface for the title design and whenever a letter from the ABC chart is featured. The sans serif font uses the bright orange and added detail to stand out over the animations, while the title font has a more unique, hand-written feel. The stars in the brain are a nod to the Southern Cross.
The chart is first seen between the Great Wave and Starry Night in a museum environment, setting the stage from a spectator point of view as we watch both countries fight over ownership of desserts and various horse parts. We like to think that we’re a neutral party in this conflict, so this lets us exaggerate the humour a bit while balancing the scales of how we represent both countries.
One of the lesser known references we featured is Phar Lap (meaning ‘lightning’ in Thai), a legendary New Zealand-bred racehorse that claimed 37 wins by 1932. After the horse met its untimely end in America, Phar Lap’s remains were preserved and both New Zealand and Australia claimed different parts of its body. We used an archival look to reflect the time of Phar Lap’s reign and feature actual photos of the horse.
Next, the team utilised wacky, miniature puppets to reenact the notorious 1981 underarm bowling incident in which Australian cricketer Trevor Chappell delivered the final ball underarm style, guaranteeing Australia’s victory. The characters were laser cut, painted, then put together with joints. It was then staged within the TV in a diorama that captures the cricket field, complete with rows of audience in the background to create depth. Although we didn’t get to use the full sequence, the bat being thrown to the ground is the icing on the cake.
We used a ping pong ball glued with strips of paper as a miniature cricket ball to lead to the ending, rolling it on top of a paper-covered barrel so it can disappear over the horizon. Of course, it’s not a real Aussie vs NZ debate if it didn’t have the run-of-the-mill sheep and convict surfer comparison. We finished the sequence with both countries in view, including an Australian bushfire and New Zealand volcano in the distance.
Director: Siew Wee H’ng
Producer: Han Law
Design, Animation, Prop & Post production: Siew Wee H’ng, Min Pon, Han Law, William Kusuma
The Downlow Concept / Nigel McCullogh