- Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015
When players of the new NBA® 2K16 game launch the latest release in the best-selling basketball franchise, the introductory cinematic that greets them is something unexpected; an adrenaline-pumping basketball fantasy where an up-and-comer faces down his NBA® heroes on a climb to the ultimate basketball challenge. The 2-minute opening cinematic was concepted, designed, animated and produced by Devastudios for 2K and Visual Concepts.
“Anton (Dawson, 2K Creative Director) tracked us down because he had seen the end title sequence we created for the movie 300 Rise of An Empire,” said Devastudios Executive Producer John Busenberg. “He wanted a stylized cinematic for the NBA 2K16 opening that was aggressive and fun.”
To complement the overall direction that director Spike Lee created for NBA 2K16 as a whole, 2K also wanted the opening cinematic to focus on the MyPlayer feature of the game, which enables users to customize their own avatars in the game. “They gave us the directives to keep Spike’s story in mind and to make sure that the hero had to overcome a lot of basketball adversity, and let us have at it,” Busenberg said.
Several rounds of internal creative yielded a winning concept from Devastudios designer Jacob Gilbreath and creative director Brad Colwell. Entitled “The Climb” it was envisioned as a character-driven narrative that follows a young hopeful through three levels, where he must overcome fearsome basketball ‘boss’ opponents to advance. “The idea was to pit our hero against the best players in the world, and then figure out how he could win,” Colwell said. “All while the world is literally blowing up around him,” Gilbreath added.
Throughout the course of the stylized animation, the hero manages to fake out Stephen Curry, back down Anthony Davis and catch an impossible pass to himself as he slides under James Harden. In the final scene, he is transported to basketball’s version of Mount Olympus, a fantasy court in the sky where he fulfills the ultimate basketball fantasy.
“As a studio rooted in design, we’re visual thinkers,” said John Berlin, Devastudios president and executive creative director. “The piece has a surreal aesthetic, a mashup of urban fantasy, comic books, Kung Fu movies and anime.” Characters’ glowing eyes and a massive golden throne coexist with larger-than-life comic book versions of Curry, Harden and Davis with Popeye-ish forearms and oversized hands. “We wanted everything in the piece to be bigger and more exaggerated than it is in real life,” Colwell explained.
Visual Concepts Executive VP Jeff Thomas said, “The cinematic Devastudios created is a terrific opening sequence for 2K16. It sets the tone for the drama and challenge that come with the path to basketball greatness.”
Busenberg added, “We were totally excited to work on this piece – NBA 2K is a cultural institution. To be part of this legacy is amazing.”
NBA 2K16, the 17th in the NBA 2K series, went on sale September 29, 2015 and is available wherever games are sold.
Production Credits for NBA 2K16 Opening Cinematic “The Climb”
Client: 2K / Visual Concepts
Directed by: Brad Colwell, Devastudios
Art Director: Anton Dawson, 2K
Executive Producers: Jeff Thomas, Visual Concepts and John Busenberg, Devastudios
Concept, Design, Production, Animation, Editorial, Sound Design by: Devastudios
Mix by: Michael Feldman
Original Score by: Steven Emerson, Ever Studio
Devastudios is a Los Angeles-based motion design firm. For over a decade Devastudios has designed and produced award-winning advertising, title sequences, logos and cinematics for film studios, gaming companies, trailer houses, and advertising agencies. http://www.devastudios.com/