The World Cup 2018 officially kicked off last week with host country Russia thrashing Saudi Arabia five-nil. England plays its first game this week against Tunisia, as football fever sweeps the country and those who are not usually fervent fans of the beautiful game tune in to watch.
Part of the excitement around the tournament is built up through the TV adverts, opening titles and animations that accompany it, normally to the sound of a suitably epic soundtrack.
Space travel-inspired logo
This year’s official titles and animations have been designed by London-based film, TV and digital production company Noah Media Group, commissioned by FIFA (the International Federation of Association Football). They take cues from Russian imagery in a bid to reference and celebrate the host country, and German film score composer Hans Zimmer was commissioned to create the music.
The Noah Media Group creative team has also designed the graphic look and feel of the matches themselves, including on-screen score graphics, substitutions and team line-ups.
All the graphic elements and animations reference the branding for this year’s tournament – a logo made up of a red, gold, black and blue trophy-shaped emblem that contains windows filled with stars. Designed by Brandia Global, the logo’s colour palette aims to reference classic Russian art, while the star-studded ball aims to symbolise “magic and dreams” as well as the country’s “pioneering in space”, says FIFA.
Animation looks to Russia’s Fabergé ornamental eggs
The colour palette of the chaotic logo makes its way into the opening sequence, as does the concept of the “magic” football – it is depicted as an intricate, bejewelled ball, inspired by Fabergé eggs, ornaments first made by Russian jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Throughout the opening sequence, the bejewelled-egg-ball flies through the football stadium, Russian cities and past motifs and landmarks associated with the country.
This includes a rocket, referencing Russia’s history of space exploration and its rocket engineering centre based in Samara, through to the zilant, a dragon-like, mythical creature that has become the official symbol of city Kazan, and Saint Basil’s cathedral, a classic 16th century Orthodox church that incorporates domed buildings, an archetypal feature of Russian architecture.
“Connect with the history of the host nation”
“Most details in the titles are entirely reflective of Russia and its host cities,” says Kim Teddy, art director at Noah Media Group. “We wanted to make a package that was engaging and clear for an international audience with a foundation in the brand, but which allowed audiences to connect with the history of the host nation, and allowed Russians to be proud and excited by this sequence too.”
Teddy says interpreting the jewelled Fabergé egg allowed the studio to use the World Cup branding in a “cinematic” way, and led to the animations appearing “rich and intricately designed”. The star symbols make it into the animations, and jewels are incorporated into building tops in a bid to reflect the “drama and scale of the tournament”, he adds.
The on-screen graphics reference the same style as the opening title, using the official brand colours, patterns and typefaces. Further gold embellishment, and for the first time in the World Cup’s history, the graphics take up the entire width and height of the TV screen, which means they reach the screen edges.
240 animations in total
The graphics and opening sequence will be used worldwide but Noah Media Group also had to create country-specific versions, resulting in 240 bespoke animations in total.
Alongside the official FIFA graphics and titles, Noah Media Group has also been commissioned to design ITV Sport’s World Cup opening titles sequence later this summer, and redesign BBC Sport’s football titles sequence for the 2018-2019 season.