Motion Graphics Designer in Focus: Emanuele Marani
Standing out in the modern motion graphics industry takes overflowing creativity, technical knowledge and skill as a storyteller, all qualities Italian motion graphics designer Emanuele Marani has in spades.
Last month Marani was recognized with a Bronze Cube Award from the ADC Awards, one of the world’s most coveted and longest running awards ceremonies in the creative industry, for his work as the motion graphics designer behind the opening title for “The Morning Show.”
The hit Apple TV series “The Morning Show,” which has been nominated for three Golden Globe Awards and stars Golden Globe Award winner Jennifer Aniston and Oscar Award winner Reese Witherspoon, revolves around the lives of the on-air hosts that help Americans wake up each day, and the unique challenges faced by people who work in morning television.
Last year Marani was hired by the LA-based studio Elastic to develop an opening title for the series that was simple, iconic and strongly influenced by the art of Saul Bass. Given the nature of the show’s storyline, which focuses heavily on the way the characters’ different personalities clash, they wanted a title that would represent the range of human behaviors in a clean and memorable way.
“I was in charge of developing the design of the title sequence and the concepts behind the design. The brief was pretty open. Hazel Baird, the creative director of Elastic, asked me to explore and find different aspects of human psychology and try to represent it using simple shapes,” explains Marani.
Using circles to represent different personalities and behavioral traits, Marani brilliantly created an opening title for the show where these seemingly simple geometric shapes take on a life of their own and tell a story in a matter of seconds. The opening title is interesting, engaging and speaks perfectly to the tone of the series.
“The entire sequence is based mainly on the meaning of the design. This is what I love to do, I love to create designs that have a strong meaning. This project was perfect in that way, since we had to use a really simple design, the attention of the viewer is focused on what you can feel from what you see,” says Marani.
Using simple elements and wisely chosen colors to create a harmonic balance, Marani makes the shapes move in a way that tells a unique story and achieves an emotional response from the audience.
“The opening titles would not have been the success that they were without Emanuele’s input and ‘out of the box’ design process,” says Elastic’s Creative Director Hazel Baird. “On every major production that Emanuele has worked on with Elastic, his title designs and graphics packages have become iconic contributions to pop-culture fare that will be recognized for decades to come.”
Whether it’s a film, television series, brand or any other kind of endeavor that aims to grab someone’s attention, motion graphics have proven to be a powerful tool for piquing the viewer’s interest. Being able to encapsulate the vibe of the project and tell a story in a short series of moving images is key for any successful motion graphics designer, and Marani has proven himself to be a master of the craft.
Over the past few years Marani has designed captivating projects for massive brands, production companies and TV series, working on campaigns and projects for Baskin-Robbins, Apple, Netflix, Instagram, Facebook, Oreo, Fiat, Target, Burt’s Bees, Uber, Goodyear, Cricket Wireless, MTV’s “Prank and the City” and “Hot 100,” the opening title for the “Alien Legacy” marathon broadcast on the Italian national TV network RAI, as well as for New Republic Pictures and more.
As a motion graphics designer, Emanuele Marani’s skillset is incredibly vast. Considering the concepts and imagery vary so greatly from one project to another, being able to seamlessly switch from using one program to another without losing time is key. Thanks to his experience and seasoned skill using the wide range of tools available in the industry today, such as Cinema 4D, Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere and many more, he is able to let his creative inspiration take over.
Marani says, “There’s always the potential to find a way to tell the story you have in mind using different techniques, the only limit of motion graphics is your mind.”
Growing up in the small city of Pietrasanta in Tuscany, Italy, Marani was surrounded by art and creative inspiration. He would spend hours drawing and creating stories with the characters he imagined, and later he began shooting photography and short films.
“My passion for movies and comics pushed me to experiment and draw comics,” recalls Marani. “But the most important thing for me, more than drawing itself, was to represent and tell a story.”
It wasn’t until years later when he was looking into universities that he discovered motion graphics. In motion graphics he found an all-encompassing art where he could weave together his love for film, photography, animation, and drawing in order to tell stories.
At 21-years-old, fresh out of school, Marani was hired as a designer for Fox Italy, where he spent four years designing idents, graphic packages for the network’s TV shows and huge ad campaigns. Working alongside the best in the industry, Fox proved to be a pivotal stepping stone that allowed Marani to quickly progress as a motion graphics designer.
“The environment was amazing since the art directors let the designers freely present their ideas for the graphic production, and that was really important for me. It was an innovative and professional environment to grow as a designer,” recalls Marani.
While at Fox, Marani created graphic packages for countless TV series, such as “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Criminal Minds,” “Glee,” “Dexter,” “New Girl,” “Last Resort,” “Breakout Kings,” “Once Upon a Time” and his work stood out. In fact, his work designing the “Brain Cells” promotional campaign for the hit series “Criminal Minds” for Fox Italy was so highly regarded that it earned Marani numerous international awards, including the 2013 PromaxBDA Silver and two Bronze Awards, as well as the 2014 Silver World Medal in Entertainment Program Promotion and a Bronze World Medal in Production Design from the New York Festivals.
The concept for the “Brain Cells” promo was to represent the mind of a criminal. As a lead motion graphics designer on the project, which mixed 3D and real mockups, Marani sketched the mazes, shot the videos that appear in the tiny rooms within the maze, and then brought the maze to life using 3D software and compositing the real footage using Cinema 4D.
“The complexity of the production itself was interesting since we mixed different techniques, such as the real footage and the 3D graphics. It was also interesting since I needed to create the sketch of the dioramas from scratch,” says Marani. “It was really nice to move through all of these complex processes until the end and see the final result come together perfectly.”
The high caliber of the projects and the standard of excellence at Fox helped Marani establish a strong foundation, and after achieving great success at the company, he branched out on his own. He’s since been tapped as the motion graphics designer for countless other TV networks and graphics studios, including Italy’s leading TV network RAI, MTV in both Germany and Italy, Psyop LA, Man vs Machine LA, We Are Royale, Hello Scholar and Buck LA.
One of his recent projects with renowned studio Buck in Los Angeles is Facebook’s 2020 “Faceversary” motion graphics video, which began its roll out earlier this year in celebration of each user’s anniversary as a Facebook member. For Marani, who has also worked as a 3D designer and concept artist for Buck LA on projects for clients such as Apple, Instagram and Oculus, working with Buck has been an exhilarating experience.
“I always wanted to work for Buck since I was a student,” explains Marani. “Buck has been one of the leading companies in design and animation. It’s one of the most innovative and experimental companies in the world. I can definitely say that Buck was one of the few companies in the world that really influenced the motion design field over the years.”
For years now Facebook, which has 2.6 billion users and is one of the biggest companies in the world, has incorporated a motion graphics video to celebrate their user’s “ Faceversary,” but this year they wanted something fresh and new. The idea behind the video was to create something that represented the user’s journey with Facebook over the years and gave a sense of the experience being handcrafted.
“Emanuele is among the very few artists I trust to take a simple brief and make something beautiful — from start to finish,” says Buck Art Director Casey Latiolais. “Every person I work with is talented, but being able to express yourself efficiently is not something everyone can do.”
Marani helped achieve the vibe Facebook was going for by creating a little world of building blocks made from wood structures. Marani first began by designing the numbers using Cinema 4D and then moved onto building the entire city.
Marani admits, “It was a long process where I had to build and destroy, then build again until I found the right design. I worked on the color palette, starting with a single main color, blue, which is the Facebook color, and then I started to add other color variations to each of the single blocks.”
Aside from being key in getting people’s attention, motion graphics transmit the vibe and attitude of the brand or program. From the colors to the images to the pacing, the motion graphics that Marani designs stick out in people’s minds and helps to make the brand memorable. For Marani, the most important thing is to continue being creative and pushing the limits with his art, and with that fueling him forward, it’s no wonder that he’s managed to achieve such an incredible level of success in the industry.
“I could totally see he enjoys what he does,” says Jeff Han, Art Director at Elastic. “He keeps trying to push the limits and doesn’t want to stop at good design, always looking to create the best of the best.”