Creative Group and Mantra Design Sweep 2008 Awards Shows With Thrilling Graphics and Audio

NEW YORK, NY ─ Creative Group and its design and visual effects boutique, Mantra Design, provided broadcast design, performance screen content and audio for some of 2008’s most prestigious awards shows, including the Country Music Association Awards (CMA Awards), 50th Annual Grammy Awards, Logo’s NewNowNext Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), the MTV Movie Awards and VH1’s Hip Hop Honors Show.

For the 2008 CMA Awards Mantra created a series of dynamic video screens to compliment 16 performances from country music’s biggest stars. One screen displayed a massive 3D-animated, photo-real American flag, which unfurled and dropped down behind several of the performers, symbolizing the American roots of a genre now popular worldwide. Mantra was also the talent behind a giant screen designed for a performance by Brad Paisley and Keith Urban, which showed photos and archival footage of the artists when they were young and took viewers on a journey through their rise to success. For the singer Allan Jackson, Mantra-designed screens depicted a virtual peep show displaying a giant facade of a building with 30 virtual sliding doors opening to reveal silhouetted female strippers.

Mantra undertook similar work for the 2008 Grammy Awards, creating the performance and interstitial screens for such acts as Alicia Keys, Kanye West and others, including an 1980s-themed collaboration between Rihanna and The Time in front of screens displaying a collage of rapidly changing zebra, jungle and other distinctly New Wave-era geometrics, and a Fosse-esque tribute by Beyonce to such legends as Anita Baker, Mahalia Jackson and Lene Horne, whose photos lit up on the screens as she called out their names. The screen imagery and lighting worked in tandem to compliment each performance, creating a dazzling effect on stage and marking the perfect entrance for her co-performer, Tina Turner.

Pulling this kind of look off involves more than just a talented team of designers, says Mantra VP Creative Director Fred Salkind. “With the Grammys, as with most big awards shows, it was a very collaborative process,” he notes. “Lee Lodge [the screen creative producer for the Grammys] gave us an overall design brief for a list of the artists that were performing and the songs that they were going to perform. We used it to create the look, making sure the screen images were choreographed to the performance, and also worked well with the show’s lighting design. It’s much more than just graphics on a giant screen.”

Creative Group also had a hand in many of the year’s top awards shows. Creative Group VP of Audio Post Production Sue Pelino mixed the Logo network’s first ever NewNowNext Awards, which highlighted the best of LGBT pop culture on the Web and in film, television and music. As Creative Group edited the entire show, Pelino was able start the mix while the edit was still taking place.

Pelino, a two-time Emmy winner who has mixed some of the biggest names in television and music, says she sought to translate the ebullient spirit of the NewNowNext Awards into the mix. “The great thing about this show was that it was truly a party,” she says. “It was Logo’s first awards show and the overall celebratory atmosphere translated to the mix as well. I achieved this party feel in the sound by keeping the mix of the crowd and room up[beat] and lively.”

For this year’s VH1 Hip Hop Honors Awards, Pelino was given the task of providing both a 5.1 and a stereo mix, as the show aired on VH1, VH1 Soul and Palladia, MTV’s HD channel. Pelino imported all the production audio tracks (iso mics, audience mics, dj track, etc.) into Pro Tools, along with the music remixes of the performance pieces, which had been provided to her primarily as stereo stems, then conformed all the tracks in Pro Tools to match the new video cut of the show. After just two days, the show was completely remixed, and ready to air.

Mantra, for its part, created the performance screens backing up the show’s 13 performers, which included such groundbreaking artists as Cypress Hill, Biz Markie, De La Soul, Naughty By Nature, Scarface and Slick Rick, along with an Isaac Hayes tribute. As with the Grammys, Mantra’s screens provided an elegant compliment to each performer’s unique style and theme. Salkind says the process went smoothly in large part because of the talent and size of the Mantra staff. “Not only do we have talented designers, producers and animators to work on these kinds of projects, but we also have large staff which, combined with our experience and the know-how to actually do this kind of work, is what really sets us apart when it comes to performance screen design.”

Mantra also worked on the 2008 MTV Movie Awards, doing the broadcast design for the “Coming Attractions” preshow to the main event. Given the theme of popcorn bursting out of a popcorn box from MTV, Mantra gave it a twist by replacing the traditional red carpet by a gold carpet made of film strips. Mantra then placed 3D popcorn boxes on the left and right sides of the gold carpet with popcorn popping out of them.

For MTV’s biggest night out, the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, Mantra delivered a broadcast design package that included all pre-show and ancillary programming, which included show opens, bumpers and end tags. The package, comprised of almost 200 deliverables, was completed within a month, a time frame that for almost any other facility would have been impossible. Thanks to the size and scope of its operation, however, Mantra was capable of delivering the creative assets necessary to accomplish the job.

Other major awards shows and television events that Creative Group and Mantra contributed to in 2008 included the 2008 CMA Festival, the NFL Kickoff 2008 outdoor concert and the Fashion Rocks 2008 television special, among others.

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About Mantra

Mantra is a premier design and visual effects boutique located in New York City’s Flatiron District. Its talented team of graphics and VFX artists are behind some of today’s most visually compelling broadcast and event design offerings including the 2008 Grammy Awards Show, the MTV Music Awards, and various show packages. Founded by Creative Group in 2007, it offers motion design, visual effects, creative editorial, event design and production for its clients, many of which are among the world’s best known brands, including CBS, ESPN, CNN, Saatchi & Saatchi, MTV Networks, Nickelodeon, History, and USA Network.

About Creative Group

Creative Group is a leading, full-service post production facility specializing in nonlinear, linear and HD editing compositing, visual effects, color correction, digital intermediates, DVD duplication and sound design/5.1 audio post mixing for the broadcast, film and DVD markets. The New York City-based Creative Group first opened its doors in 1993 with an imaginative and award-winning team of artists. The company has since expanded its industry presence to include Mantra, its Manhattan-based design and visual effects boutique, as well as its Bristol, CT location. The company has grown internationally, as well, to include facilities overseas in Beijing and Dublin. Working with such high profile clients as The Walt Disney Company, General Electric, Viacom, Time Warner, Paramount, NBC Universal and Momentum, Creative Group prides itself in its mission to offer an all-inclusive hub for value-added creative services. This affords clients the ability to differentiate themselves in today’s cluttered multimedia environment.