About a month before Inspire, we realized we needed something on the screens between presentations and during introductions.
“Yeah, like one of those looped animation thingies that you see at the Oscars,” someone suggested.
“Yeah, a screensaver,” someone else said. It wasn’t until a few days later that I learned that the proper term (i.e. the one you want to use if you’re trying to get hired by a client who needs one) is a “screenwash.” There are probably other terms that are more eloquent, but screenwash works for the purposes of this post.
“Screenwashes are shown between screenings while the theater changes audiences. About 20-30 minutes. It needs to brand the event without being too static or repetitive,” explains Doug Grimmett, founder and creative director of Primal Screen. “It should not appear as a narrative with edits because that changes the audience dynamic. People would feel that they have to focus on the screen while others are still arriving and settling in.”
Screenwashes, like movie titles, are yet another example of motion graphics that can be taken for granted and become nearly invisible to general audiences. But that also makes them perfect canvases for thinking a little outside the box. They’re great design challenges that actually serve a pretty important purpose. (If you don’t believe me, try sitting through the awkward visual silences at a conference that doesn’t have screenwashes.)
To illustrate the point, check out “Spark City,” a clever screenwash created by Doug and his crew for this year’s Sundance Film Festival (which, for those of you who just missed the pun, is held in Park City, Utah). Primal Screen actually has some history working with Sundance for this sort of thing. Find more action here.