This January, TV’s critically acclaimed and seminal fan-favorite series “Nashville” will land at its rightful home on CMT. To promote the show’s exciting move and season to come, CMT called on 2C Creative for a high-gloss campaign collaboration. The creative agency, which had worked with CMT on other successful series launches, was asked to build anticipation while reassuring the show’s existing fans that this is the “Nashville” they all know and love; just on a new network, where—in a lot of ways—it has always belonged.
“2C was our first call,” said Peter Mannes, CMT’s VP, Creative. “We knew from previous projects that 2C would bring both artistry and elbow grease to this campaign. They are talented, solution-minded, and always ready to put their all into every frame.”
2C, in close collaboration with CMT, conceived an ambitious campaign around two major concepts: the show’s true “homecoming” on CMT and its story-arc tease of tragically flawed or broken characters trying to piece their lives and relationships back together in the new season. To realize this vision, 2C had to blow it all up… Literally!
By surrounding the “Nashville” cast with a swirling mix of shiny particles, fragments and glass shards that are slowly reforming, then capturing the series’ star power, the agency created a stylized, glamorous world anchored by the intense character emotions. The finished product made for remarkably beautiful packaging thread that could be deployed on all media platforms.
“A show like ‘Nashville’ is so beautiful that putting together a launch campaign was a little like building a movie, because you want to capture the same beautiful cinematography and rich, organic tapestry of emotions. I’m really grateful that CMT trusted this vision…that we could make something stunning in camera that would really speak to the core of what the show’s about.”
If the complexity of this idea wasn’t challenging enough, 2C had to navigate the talent schedule and a show in the middle of its production cycle, which meant being ready on short notice to get the performances in the most expedient manner possible. This required intense previsualization—a really good road map that helped anticipate all the different scenarios , knowing that some of the character interactions wouldn’t be created in camera. First, working with CMT, 2C identified the storylines CMT was OK teasing. This required 2C to produce a fully 3D animatic followed by numerous storyboards, sketch boards and style frames.
Then the methodically planned shoots were divided between two talent days and two effects days. The talent days were all about capturing the varied emotional performances over green screen.
As a bonus, each character was given his/her own lighting style to reflect different moods. To capture an authentic voice of the show,
2C worked closely with the actual “Nashville” show runners and writers, crafting the monologue that ultimately serves as the narrative of clip spots.
“The incredibly emotional and truthful narrative allowed us to create this visually moving tease that not only reflected where the characters have been but embraced where they are going in the new season. Each character has made mistakes, gone through despair and suffered regrets, but they’re moving forward and trying to put things back together, and that is what we sought to achieve with the music, the shots and the delivery of the narrative we chose.”
Early on, 2C decided to create a stylized environment symbolizing “Nashville’s” new home on CMT. However, the overall aim was to create a dreamy, fanciful world versus something literal, so the decision was made to create the sets in CG. In order to give a sense of a familiar place the idea was to also pull in elements of the physical show sets. One major caveat to all the dreaminess: the particles, fragments and glass shards needed to feel authentic, so it became clear that a practical effects shoot was necessary rather than trying to formulate those in CG. Effects shooting days involved capturing elements comprised of floating particles and fragments, then the glass shards of the exploded logo letter forms.
“We wanted to use glass and highly reflective materials like glitter, so shooting these things was really the best way to go. Elements like this can take months in CG with no guarantee that we’d get the realness and impactful nuance we were able to capture in camera. At its very core, this show is about real emotion and real people and that sort of organic quality that relationships have…the good, bad, ugly, so we wanted these particle effects to have those same qualities, reflecting the show’s raw fragmented emotions.”
2C began by fabricating ¾ inch glass replicas of each letter in the logos for CMT and “Nashville” and used pyrotechnics to blow them up. Tapping the expertise of cinematographer Chuck Ozeas (well known for his Sunday Night Football openings), the agency used a Phantom 4K Flex high-speed camera to capture the explosions in elegant slow-motion detail. Each letter was detonated separately and then meticulously reassembled in post to recreate the CMT and Nashville logos.
In blowing up the glass, it was impossible to predict how it would break, so the team had to rely on trial and error. This experimentation ultimately identified how much charge was necessary to get the desired result. However, all this experimenting required having a lot of glass material fabricated in advance. In all, 2C had 15 of each letter and once they got into the groove, they ended up using far less. Other items in the practical effects toolkit included glitter, sequins, glass shards and even water mist from a squirt bottle. These items were thrown, shot from air mortars and agitated in different ways to create unique moments of flutter, collision and deliberate direction.
2C’s design experts, led by Design Director Luis Martinez, then got to work on a grueling process that involved bringing it all together—marrying the live-action components with special effects in post to give life to the highly ambitious vision. To create the GC environments required many weeks of work in Cinema 4D. The details in these environments and the nuances in CG lighting meant heavy render times and long hours finessing these scenes. Something Luis Martinez and his VFX team jumped into with both feet.
“We knew that this concept would really push our capabilities and force us to be smart about how we built our scenes. The entire team put in tireless hours and really owned the difficulty of this, and I think the results show the TLC we put into crafting all parts of this epic campaign.”
Then, as a final touch, a custom version of the folk song “Wayfaring Stranger” was
produced by CMT. This musical queue featured the vocals of Leigh Nash from Sixpence Non The Richer fame. Her haunting rendition audibly elevates the dreamy, fantastical
visuals and creates a beautiful soundtrack to support the, glossy and conceptual image piece that launches the series on CMT.
In total, 2C delivered eight different spots, a multimedia toolkit for use throughout the season, including unique episodic talent IDs and all digital assets required for billboards, print and web promotion. CMT, for their part, produced a number of spots in house using the toolkit and have an extensive cross-channel media buy aimed at bringing the
enormous fan base to the network for the new episodes.
Anthony Barton – SVP, Creative and Consumer Marketing
Peter Mannes – VP, Creative
Heather Graffagnino – VP, Production Management
Jeff Nichols – Executive Producer, On-Air Promos
Cheryl King – Supervising Writer/Producer, On-Air Promos
Lindsay Lapinski – Director of Production, Creative
Jon Brown – Line Producer, Production Management
Samantha Storey – Writer/Producer, On-Air Promos
Sarah Walker – Sr. Project Manager, On-Air Promos
David Bennett – Sr. Director, On-Air Design
Shawna O’Neill – Sr. Project Manager, On-Air Design
Alicia Bequette – Sr. Art Director, Off-Air Creative
Kahla Poczatek – Sr. Project Coordinator, On-Air Promos
Jessica Sheppard – Coordinator, On-Air Promos
Chris Sloan – Chief Creative Officer
Brian Eloe – Creative Director/Live-Action Director
Marni Wagner – Supervising Writer/Producer
Ben Frank – Supervising Writer/Producer
Jeff Morelli – Editor
Luis Martinez – Design Director
Bob Cobb – Graphics Producer
Dmitri Zavyaskin – VFX Artist/Colorist
Andy Fernandez – VFX Artist/Designer
Nikki Coloma – Production Manager
Robert Armstrong – Director of Operations
Ashley Hartford – Technical Operations Manager
Kelly Lanman – Assistant Editor
Williams Naranjo – Assistant Editor
Chris Stoerchle – Line Producer
Chuck Ozeas – Director of Photography
Cesar Haliwa – Sound Designer / Audio Mix
Chris Giammalvo – Production Designer (Visual Effects)
Adrian Dgerotxxo – VFX Artist/Colorist
Abraham Torna – VFX Artist/Compositor
Rafn Gislason – 3D Modeler
Stefan Van Bolderick – 3D modeler
Rudolpho Baez – 3D Modeler
Manuel Grillo – 3D Modeler
Aaron Magee – Designer
About 2C Creative