S4 Brands Chiller Channel

Launching a new cable network can be a scary proposition, but that’s the whole point of NBC-Universal Cable Entertainment’s Chiller, new all-HD channel featuring 24-hour horror and thriller programming. To create on-air branding for the endeavor, the conglomerate turned to Hollywood’s S4 Studios, which used CG animation and effects to create five original teasers, five multipurpose graphics packages for station Ids and bumpers, and a 90-second pre-launch promo that introduces all of Chiller’s graphic elements.

Created by S4 director/designer Geoffrey Kater, writer/producer Larry Le Francis and creative director Thomas Helmintoller, the branding pieces present a large, rundown, dark metropolis that is intended to evoke a sense of dread and mystery.

‘Each graphics package dealt with a specific location in the city,’ Kater explains. ‘They included a freaky warehouse, a bus stop at night, a sewer, the inside of an industrial fan, and a wall with bricks that seem to breathe with a life of their own.’

Other graphic elements feature an otherworldly airport security man watching a suitcase full of bones go through X-Ray, a melting painting and a haunted house guarded by a chain link fence made up of tiny skulls.

‘What was most important to us was capturing the more psychological and subtle themes and visuals associated with horror,’ Kater adds. ‘We wanted to create scenes that would be horrific without showing one drop of blood or violence.’

Kater and the S4 team of animators created the CG elements using Lightwave 9.running on Windows XP Pro. Once the computer-generated images were composited with live-action bluescreen shots, After Effects 7 and Photoshop CS were utilized to add numerous effects until the 100-plus HD elements were fully integrated.

Chiller launched March 1 on DirecTV and will be available as an HD simulcast channel (with standard definition), with video-on-demand and broadband-on-demand also available. To view S4′s Chiller campaign, go to www.s4studios.com.