June 12, 2022

Playing Around With Bumpers

A bumper in the film business is a form of studio branding. You’ll generally see two or three at the start of almost every film. Here’s a list of famous ones you’ve seen dozens of times (sadly, an old list with a few gaps).

Sometimes bumpers are simply visually striking with little attempt to create meaning. The best ones, I think, try to say something about the studio. Here’s the bumper for Carbon Trace Productions, the non-profit documentary studio I co-founded in Springfield, Missouri.

Carbon Trace Bumper with Audio.mp4 from Carbon Trace Productions on Vimeo.

We thought we might be making films about broadly environmental issues of all sorts. Our first film — Downtown: A New American Dream — was a new urbanist film examining the movement back to cities by boomers and millennials. We ended up focusing more on humanitarian service. But the bumper was designed to indicate a cleansing of the earth through our documentary efforts. Hence the smoke cleared away as the moon sweeps by and the name is revealed.

Here’s a draft bumper I’ve developed for The Rhetorica Network.

Rhetorica is a character that represents the concerns of the discipline of rhetoric — the persuasive use of language. I’ve mixed the Old English font with Greco-Roman imagery to connect the past to my application of my academic field (rhetoric, not media) to the persuasive concerns of documentary filmmaking.

Anyway, bumpers are cool and fun to make. So here you go.

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