Engine Room creative directors Dan Schmit and Michael Caplan tapped their new lead designer Todd Ingalls to spin the main title design for Comedy Central’s new sketch show Key & Peele. The highly promoted weekly show takes the 10:30pm time slot between TOSH.0 and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  Former MADtv players Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele star in the hysterical new series and worked closely with the Engine Room team along with the show’s producers to help develop the graphics-rich main title concept.

A highly choreographed green screen shoot produced by Engine Room along with a stylized design treatment take the comedians through a fast paced look at a sampling of the kinds of characters they portray on the show.  The shoot involved running the talent through a series of wardrobe and make up changes, starting and ending each scene with a transitional pose, that leads to the next sequence.  In 20 short seconds they go from being sports fans to gang bangers to surgical doctors to finally resolving as zombie killers.

Ingalls, who was the former lead creative designer at Intralink, joined Engine Room full time last December.  In the K&P open, he masterfully wove the artful piece together into a seamless show open that perfectly sets the tone for the highly creative new series.  By using Engine Room to produce the design, shoot and post for the open, Comedy Central and the K&P producers were able to take full advantage of everything the hybrid studio has to offer.


Engine Room is in mid-season production on an innovative comic-book style campaign with Gary Hartley and his Fox Sports Graphics team for this season’s NASCAR on FOX. Each week ER is producing a 30 second custom tease that recaps the thrills, spills and upsets from the previous week’s NASCAR race. These largely animated teases are script-to-air on a five-day schedule and include a full package of driver bumps and additional graphics for the Fox On-Air team to utilize during their weekly broadcasts.

Creative talent was the key in both designing and executing this high profile project, and for that ER leaned on its own Dave Piedra to spearhead the creative effort. Illustrators Frank Gomez and Iain Slack, helped define a striking pop-art look for the tracks, race cars and the drivers themselves. Within days of network sign-off, Dan Schmit joined Hartley traveling to the legendary Daytona Raceway to film the competing NASCAR drivers for their comic book alter egos. With these key assets in place, the ER home team headed by EP Michael Caplan began production, utilizing an appropriately high intensity color palate.


Unique to the spots are the custom 3D car animations for each driver. Hand drawn textures and a custom toon-shader result in a truly different look for each of these graphic car renderings. Highlights of prior week’s races are reenacted and rendered in 3D using Maya and then each comic book panel, consisting of cars racing/crashing, track establishing, driver interiors and hero driver poses, is assembled by Compositing Supervisor Eric Heavens, who brings it all together in After Effects CS5. The first tease rolled out in February in time for the Daytona 500 and the 14 episode series will continue until June.

Cross Creek PicturesCross Creek PicturesCross Creek Pictures

In the race to complete the Oscar contender BLACK SWAN for its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, the independent film producers Brian Oliver and John Breaux at Cross Creek Pictures turned to Engine Room to design a theatrical ID for their new production company.  The result is a slick noir style, black & white piece that perfectly accompanies Darren Aronofsky’s latest directorial masterpiece.

ER had been courting UK designer Allison Moore for several years and finally the Cross Creek project created the perfect opportunity to join forces.  ER and Moore worked closely to develop the client’s original concept of a period steam engine traversing a trestle bridge into storyboards before going into production.  A few short days later the first animation test was rendered and within a week the ER team presented the finished theatrical ID to the producers in a screening room at E-Film in Hollywood.  Oliver and Breaux were proud of the results and within a week the new Cross Creek Pictures ID premiered along with BLACK SWAN, to open the 2010 Venice Film Festival with appropriate fanfare.

Future FoodFuture FoodFuture Food

On the new Planet Green series FUTURE FOOD, the kitchen is regarded much more as a laboratory environment offering inspiration for a more scientific approach to the logo and graphics package design. Much as celebrity chefs Omar Cantu and Ben Roche are pushing food preparation into the future in experimental and wild ways, Engine Room has done the same for the show’s look departing from the typical and somewhat tired look of traditional cooking shows. Engine Room took cues from grade school scientific experiments rather than frying pans and food resulting in a clean and playful look. The design was so well received at Planet Green that they also adopted it for their promo campaign leading up to the premiere in spring 2010.

Future Food premieres March 30th on Planet Green.