Watch the Titles

Playgrounds 2011

Heyheyhey (2011)

“One of the weirdest things we ever created”

The pressure is on. Pushed by their peers, event title designers go the extra limit to produce ever more innovative and spectacular event titles. This is especially true for designers who create the titles for high profile motion design events, such as OFFF, F5 and Playgrounds – events that each year raise the bar higher in terms of the quality and originality of their opening titles. Event titles – we’ve said it before – have truly given a boost to title design. That said, this year’s Playgrounds Festival titles are truely something else…

Playgrounds 2011 (stills)

“it needs to be a ‘you-should-have-been-there’ moment,” was essentially the creative brief of the annual Playgrounds Digital Arts Festival in the Netherlands to design studio HEYHEYHEY, known for Melvin the Machine – a massive Rube Goldberg Machine they made. Together they came up with the idea to do a Live Titles Show wherein the speakers would perform their own titles. “A historical feat,” commented Playgrounds MC and designer of last year’s titles Fons Schiedon* afterwards.”An extremely stressful but very rewarding experience,” according to HEYHEYHEY. The audience seemed to love every second of it, and so did we. You should have been there…

Playgrounds 2011 (still)
A few seconds before the Live Title Show. More photos on Flickr. Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann.

“The basic idea to do something ‘live’ sprouted from the mind of Playgrounds,” says Elske van der Putten of HEYHEYHEY. “Initially, we were thinking along the lines of doing a 3-D film, Augmented Reality, or a laser show. But we soon realized that the ultimate 3-D show would have to be about real people interacting with physical attributes.”

Playgrounds 2011 (still)
Playgrounds 2011 Live Title Show: Physalia

Heyheyhey took a calculated risk by performing a title sequence live on stage. “Playgrounds is an event that celebrates the unlimited creative possibilities of video and animation. We loved the idea of exploring the limitations of physical space in the context of such an event. So we deliberately introduced ‘the human factor’ into the equation, which includes the risk of failure and the risk that the audience doesn’t like it. These are things you can’t really fix in post afterwards. Not with 1000 live witnesses at the event.”

The script existed only in the minds of HEYHEYHEY‘s two creatives and their accomplices. Some speakers received puzzling instructions such as: “Wear this fake fur coat and these goggles,” or “sit on this  excersize bike and spin fast (Ben & Julia).” Needless to say, the room was rife with anticipation.

Playgrounds 2011 (still)
Playgrounds titles: Submarine Channel: Forget the Film, Watch the Titles

The performance featured Playgrounds Festival’s speakers as clueless puppets in a carefully choreographed play. Speakers were directed, or rather pushed around a stage-filling DIY-set by porters in beige overalls. Each speaker presented their own title.

“Apart from the ‘live’ aspect of the show, we wanted to have control over the design elements as much as possible, says van der Putten. “The motions and gestures of the porters, the design of the props and the set, the narrative flow… We started big and kind of corny,” she says, referring to the short laser show presentation at the start, “and we ended small in the last scene, which featured the director of Playgrounds with the zootrope, which is one of the first forms of animation. We tried to tell a story.

Playgrounds 2011 (still)
The Live Titles Show set. More photos on Flickr. Photo Boudewijn Bollmann.

“It’s always great to surprise people with a new concept or with flabbergasting visual effects. And we love to try out new things, but doing a performance like this is also kind of Hellish. So much can go wrong. The end result is one of the weirdest things we ever created. During the process, we found out that it’s actually much easier to create something beautiful, than it is to create something weird. But we’re very happy with how it all turned out.”

Playgrounds 2011 (still)

Article: Remco Vlaanderen, © Submarine Channel, 14 October 2011.

Host of Playgrounds 2011 was the motion designer/animator-cum-visual artist Fons Schiedon, who created last year’s “aesthetically insulting” Playgrounds titles.

Year of production


Full credits

Title directors
Opening animation
Heerko Groefsema
Studio Takt
Brass Band
De Koppersnellers
Students Zoomvlietcollege
Commissioned by
Leon van Rooij @ Playgrounds Digital Arts Fest

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