Jacksonville Giants 2017 Team Poster

Written by Jonathan Collins

September 23, 2022

Summary: With a shoe-string budget and zero photography equipment, images required for this project were taken on an iPhone 7 but using advanced editing and color techniques achieved a 16-bit HDR and DSLR camera look. The poster was composed in InDesign with components from Photoshop and Illustrator. This project is notable due to its execution and craftsmanship.

The Jacksonville Giants end-of-year team posters were complicated, to say the least. In a history of the team’s posters (archive link here) from 2010 to 2016 many elements competed for the viewer’s attention. Granted, since the goal of the piece is to summarize the season’s athleticism and document the teams’ successes and lessons learned, the team had seasons of tough learning, the piece would be busy but at no real risk for the viewer to miss a call-to-action (hint: there is no call to action).

When I set out to accomplish the task of both designing the visual and preparing the technical output for the print facility, in this case it was to be printed using a high-volume digital print company using Xerox’s high-end color presses, I aimed to accomplish a few things all at once:

  1. Achieve Balance from Chaos
  2. Join the team poster to the established brand decisions from earlier in the year and season
  3. Production output to be specific to Digital Print needs (mixed elements within a PDF rather than a single raster image)
  4. Solve for the complexities inherent with group photographs (in the center, the athletes standing in rows) that require masking.

Achieve Balance from Chaos

The samples above are the posters that predate the 2017 poster I was tasked to design, photograph the athletes, and prepare for print production. In all, there were about 73 individual assets composed into one poster.

Of all the elements to carefully craft and consider, it was the team picture with athletes standing in rows and windows, smiling, and presentable. This feat is nearly impossible, as the previous designer was able to explain, and a lot of editing occurred in the 2016 poster to fix faces, placement, and mask out the group from their background. Given the difficulty of the previous efforts and an expectation to build on the look of the years previous, I executed a plan to photograph the team all at once, and then individually.

The plan was this:

  1. Take a group picture of the athletes with as much composition consideration as possible,
  2. take individual pictures of athletes to get enough samples of good expressions and body language,
  3. use an app like ProCam 8 to take images ready for HDR combining,
  4. Combine the HDR images to a 16 or 32 bit color composite,
  5. color correct, and mask each athlete, and
  6. Recombine individual athlete images into a group using the initial group picture as a reference of scale.

The rest of the elements required only some masking, color correction, and compositing.

The video above shows a progression of the poster. The first image is a simple blocking of where elements would be placed before committing the time to mask and refine the imagery; the six-step plan to compose the team photo had already been complete. As predicted, there were changes made to the team photo where players were moved around and the two coaches added in. Given the preparation for inevitable changes after the photography was completed, adding the coaches, moving athletes around was very simple to accomplish.

The design itself morphed its way into the final with as many back-and-forth revisions and adjustments between management. Each of the action shots were composed to appear interwoven and balance out an athlete on the opposite side of the poster. The brick background texture was reused from the Giants Bus Wrap, and all the other images were sourced from previous efforts in the season or taken at the ABA Finals.

Lessons Learned

The takeaway for this project, and why I highlight it in my portfolio, is that the end result is just as important as how it arrived there. Even print projects require forethought and by preparing for change and knowing one’s own client, or in this case the team’s owner, one can plan and be reactive. Had I failed to plan for change, the ad-hoc version of the product might have had noticeable visual defects.

If you’d like to explore the source materials yourself, feel free to download the full project assets here. Use 7-Zip (or Keka for Mac) to extract the files and poke around.

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