TMG, a restaurant co-founded by Ted Turner, needed to get local franchisees excited about their unique position & brand promise. Now they have a brand new video, from yours truly. Watch the video. And read on to learn about some of the process and tricks that went into it.

project background:

TMG, has the unique position of bringing the spirit of the frontier into a restaurant concept. Backed by the credibility that their co-founder is literally the largest private American land owner and bison rancher. This ‘sizzle’ video is designed to be shown for an internal meeting — to rally franchisees around brand positioning. Immediately following the video, guests enjoy a keynote PowerPoint Presentation, which we also designed art for.

final render:

process, tips + tricks:

By the small scale nature of the project, our budget limited us to still images. Being limited to stills tends to be a common challenge — that you too may have already encountered. Here were some of the techniques used to add depth to the project. In other words — doing more with less.
(1) Create a narrative. My co-worker Matt wrote out a script based on the creative brief. I then designed all the images to relate in an airy way with the script. (i.e. an image of a house with text about family, an intimate close-up image of an animal with text about spirit, and an image of a herd with text about coming together) My goal is to loosely relate image and type, but not resort to literal ‘see-and-say’.

(2) Create Visual Interest. How can you create a cinematic-quality from still images? The first step was the Ken Burn’s effect. Stills are paned across, zoomed into and out of, and cross dissolved. This is obviously nothing original. In the landscape shots, I animated the cloud backgrounds. Also, not ground breaking. For the first round, I revealed all the type using a brush animation mask that I created in Corel Painter X (see round 1 video below) — which ended up getting cut by the client. Something special was the subtle animation I did using the After Effects Puppet Tool. The eye of the buffalo blinks and the buffalo and horse heads subtly rise. After effects was also utilized to create lighting effects for the final scene, which leads us into transitions…

(2a) Creative Transitions. The first thing I brainstormed on this project was creative transitions. A sun sets over a mountain and takes us to black. From black a neon sign flickers on to transport us to a modern store location. Both animated using After Effects. The opening transition was an animated smoke screen (this tutorial might be helpful). Going in and out of smoke is a pretty sweet transition. A very subtle but intentional transition was cross-fading between a circular basket of potatoes and a circular buffalo eye. From the close-up shot of buffalo we keep zooming out and transition to a mid-range shot, and then transition to a long-range herd shot. Had this been a broadcast spot, the zoom out scene would have utilized cranes and helicopters!

initial storyboard:

big sky spirit story board

round 1 video export:

corel painter brush stroke footage:

animation + art direction: stephen jackson
script: matt bergeson


  1. (I’m such a child!)

    I reeeally like the lighting effects, nice work! If I were Teddy, I would’ve taken the brush strokes down to a single, wider swipe to speed up the text coming in. I think the texture it brings is loverly!

  2. gables on November 16th, 2010
  3. Thanks for the feedback ann! A single brush stroke is a great idea/compromise. I think the client was very hesitant to do anything ‘western’ in the vain of clint eastwoody/spaghetti westerny. Anything with distress is out.

  4. stephen jackson on November 16th, 2010
  5. Well, that’s just baby-town frolicks crazy…if a bison logo doesn’t already say westerny/ranchery then I don’t know what does! …maaaybe if it were also wearing a cowboy hat. Happy clients = happy food on the table though, so a gold (sheriff’s) star for you!

  6. gables on November 17th, 2010
  7. Yeah, I agree what a solid job for a western feel with that bison, I don’t know if it goes too fast though. Great Job, Banana Stickers all around!

  8. Zachary Kraft on August 5th, 2011
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