Novacut is a new design-focused platform for a disruptive generation of film and video artists who are seeking to change the way TV and films are produced, distributed and consumed.
Until recently, filmmaking has always been the most expensive medium for artistic creation, so distribution of TV and films was the exclusive domain of studios and networks. Camera technology, digital editing, online distribution, and crowdfunding are converging to create a whole new market for TV and film creators to reach fans truly independent of the established industry.
In this new realm, Novacut is where artists and fans will meet—not simply because of a smooth running direct-to-fan venue but because Novacut is also the catalyst to make the paradigm thrive.
The Novacut platform will consist of three core elements:
- The Novacut Editor: Not just made for-the-web but made of-the-web. A Free Software tool anyone can use, geared specifically for entertainment production of the highest quality and for squeezing the most from new technology. A free, cloud-enabled video editor focused on TV and movie production using HDSLR cameras. Revolution of this sort comes from the bottom up, so helping bring production costs even lower, Novacut opens the doors to new artists even wider.
- The Novacut Community: A singular resource for collaborating and developing expertise—a home on the Internet where the new creative class turns to learn the skills of new production technologies, share ideas and collaborate on projects. With new tech in hand, everyone is a newbie and that means the techniques of filmmaking need not remain an esoteric art. Following the example of Free Software, once established, an open, collaborative approach to creation is a fiercely competitive approach to match.
- The Novacut Venue: Direct artist-to-audience distribution and funding has shown its promise, yet the market is far from settled. Novacut are building a platform and proving ground for any promising approach that doesn’t cling to expiring business models. An online marketplace though which artists can distribute their work to their fans, and through which fans can support the artists they love. Which approach to use will always be up to the artist. To help make that call and to further the state of the art for the market, Novacut will provide transparent access to all data gleaned from the venue’s operation (as long as it does not compromise user security or privacy).
Getting To The Heart, Soul & Centre
In our initial Q&A session, which is the first step I undertake when getting to know a client and their project better, I was thankfully presented with an extremely extensive brief from the Novacut team.
I cannot emphasise enough how important this information is.
Apart from getting down the more technical requirements—such as target audience, competitors, project mission and more—it is of the utmost importance that you come to understand what I call the Heart, Soul & Centre of the project.
In Novacut’s own words:
We want our logo to be iconic in the sense that it sticks in the brain when launching the Novacut app and can be recognized from across the room if printed on a shirt. In short, we’re looking for an iconic representation of Novacut’s essence (i.e. Sharing: sharing content with others, giving back to the artists who entertain you, working collaboratively through the editor, the share alike CC-licensing, share technical knowledge etc.)
It was important that the new logo conveyed a sense of:
Warmth, participation, sharing/reciprocity, creative freedom.
It was also salient to the team that the new identity shouldn’t aim for obvious metaphors to do with film, videos and video editing but should be more about people and stories as, ultimately, Novacut is a platform that will, not only enable the easy creation of beautiful storytelling, but is based on community, collaboration, sharing and direct and transparent interaction.
With all this in mind, it was time to start mapping my ideas and thoughts.
Get Those Ideas Out
Design shouldn’t be entirely formulaic. Same with the process of design. The keen of eye will note that the development mindmap and sketching is relatively minimal on this particular project. That’s because the brief and information I had received was so complete and extensive that I already had a fairly good idea, conceptually, of the what the Novacut logo was going to look like.
This is why it’s so important to get as much information as possible from the client.
Both of you benefit.
As the designer, you benefit because you are more able to develop an identity design that is totally unique and fit-for-purpose and the client benefits by eventually receiving a unique, considerate and timeless design.
Developing The Heart Of The Story
As is usually the case for me, I developed only one idea as a first draft for the Novacut team. You can see here why I prefer this method of development on Step 3.
Preferring, as always, to keep the design clean and simple, and taking into account Novacut’s preference for the design to be based around people not filmmaking, the logo consists of a bisected uppercase ‘N’ with two ‘heads’.
The result is a balanced reflection of two people, sharing and collaborating from opposite ends of the earth. Furthermore, the bisected uppercase ‘N’ puns on the name of the company, Novacut: with the ‘N’ of ‘Novacut’ literally cut in half.
An important consideration of the logo and identity was that it also had to work as an icon for use primarily on the Ubuntu Unity desktop. Novacut see the Ubuntu operating system as being the flagship for an easy-to-use, mainstream Linux operating system so care was taken to design a logo that hinted slightly at Ubuntu’s own and also blended seemlessly into the Ubuntu desktop.
I am not an icon designer. So instead, I hired one to convert the solo brandmark into a series of high quality icons. He is Harenome Ranaivoarivony Razanajato, a young and super-talented icon designer.
As you can see, the quality of his work is fantastic.
Creating A Universe That Tells A Story
Though the logo, and icon, design is important, ultimately it is just one element of the entire universe that tells the story of Novacut.
The world’s best brands have a complete identity that is so much more than the logo itself.
David Law, partner at SomeOne design studio puts it best:
When you look at brands like O2, its success lies in the richness and depth of its brand world (bubbles, blue grad etc.) This forms a flexible branded platform that is instantly recognisable—you could remove the logo and still know the brand. The logo in itself is not the ‘hero’.
With this in mind, it was time to start developing the greater Novacut universe that tells their story.
Parts of the First Draft I designed also explain the Graphic Language that would be used to tell the Novacut story.
Guiding The Way
It was also required by the Novacut team to have high-quality identity guidelines designed for future reference when the team inevitably grows.
Telling the Novacut story requires a guide to help along their way…
Make The Universe Real
Thankfully I had managed to develop the First Draft of the new Novacut identity design, get it modified and approved in time for the Novacut team’s travel to the May 2011 Ubuntu Developer Summit.
Branded collateral, such as business cards, t-shirts and stickers were produced for the team, ready for their interactions with various important Ubuntu developers and designers as well as hardware manufacturers such as ARM.
Now they had an identity that told their story.
Jeffrey Ballagh, Novacut co-founder & business lead. Photo taken by Tara Oldfield.
Photo taken by Tara Oldfield.
Photo taken by Tara Oldfield.
Photo taken by Tara Oldfield.
Photo taken by Tara Oldfield.
The team also embarked on a promotional campaign reminiscent of Banksy’s street art style, noting how the Novacut logo was perfect for easy stencilling and playing with the idea of “revolutionary” wall graffiti.
After all, Novacut aim to completely transform the way TV and film is produced, distributed and consumed, based on freer licensing and direct, transparent interaction between artists and fans.
Novacut is telling a new story. The word’s on the street.
Photos taken by Tara Oldfield.
A wallpaper was also developed for the team members, and anyone else, to use on their workstations.
Downloading The Development
For those who are interested in seeing the full First Draft document I developed for Novacut, as well as the final brand identity guidelines, I have made both available for download.
Feel free to redistribute the documents, I only ask that wherever you feature them you point people back to this post to download the PDFs.
Feedback From The Team
From Jason DeRose, Novacut’s Lead Developer and co-founder:
Novacut is a bit complex, involves several pieces, and historically we’ve left many people confused after trying to explain it. But IZO was able to condense our tome of details down into something tangible and emotional, something you can understand at a glance. Novacut is all about helping storytellers, but it was IZO who helped us tell our story. And the design IZO did for Novacut is so good it hurts. We couldn’t recommend him more.
Update: Novacut Are Back On Kickstarter
Want to help get this incredible project off the ground? The team, better equipped and wised up, have made another Kickstarter campaign. I implore you to check it out.
Update 2: Novacut Achieve Their Kickstarter Funding!
Here’s the magical moment.
This news gives me a tight little shiver and a warm, glowing feeling in my face.
They get my blessings. It’s excellent to see such a design-focussed and ambitious FOSS team.
More from my portfolio.
Ian Cylkowski aka Izo
Logo & Identity Designer
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