Final Project – Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo Olympics Animated Sequence by Christopher King

For the last motion graphics project of this course I chose the option to design an animated sequence, logo and poster design for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in 2020. With the alternatives being a Guide to London or a BBC News piece, I felt an Olympic sequence offered room to experiment in interesting graphic design and an opportunity to indulge in traditional and contemporary Japanese art.

Final Animated Sequence

This animated sequence acts as an introduction to the BBC coverage and tells the story of a young Samurai’s journey to achieving first place on the Olympic podium. Meeting various characters along the way the Samurai repeatedly nods as a symbol of respect to those that helped and came before her.

Poster Design

The poster designs play off the end title resolve from the animation adding the essential BBC branding and air dates along with the classic Olympic ring iconography. I’ve tried to keep the designs clean, simple and able to work together in a variety of layouts.

Collected Reference

Looking at everything from the Hokusai Wave, the pop art of Tadonari Yokoo and high-street Japanese advertising, my instinct from the start was to combine well-known images from traditional Japanese prints with the colourful and bold graphics of modern-day Japan, creating something that is immediately identifiable with Japan and modern enough to represent the world’s largest sporting event across BBC media coverage.


My final choice of art direction for the piece was greatly inspired by Lottie Reniger. A German animator born in 1899 who popularised a form of animation using paper cut-outs set against backlit scenes. Famous for the feature-length film The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) and numerous shorts based on classic fairy tales, I felt that this style could be adapted to the traditional world of Japan and offer an interesting exercise in animation within Adobe After Effects.

Logo Design Progression

Work on the Tokyo Olympics logo design began early on in the process before even collecting reference for the animation, which explains the more contemporary approach in my early designs. My initial designs explored modern and graphic ideas using primary colours and patterns within simple shapes. This gradually evolved into a lettering design that suggested paper cut letters that would unfold in the animation, which in turn reminded me of the work of Lottie Reniger. These ideas with the addition of the Samurai character would inform the animated title sequence to come.

Pencil Draft Storyboards

Taking reference from traditional Japanese art and my moodboards I set to work in designing a sequence that combined a fairy tale aesthetic with the multitude of sporting events and festival atmosphere promised by an Olympic event.

First Draft Animatic

To test these storyboard ideas I assembled them together in a simple animatic set to a potential music track. This helped to establish the pace of the sequence and give a sense of how long each scene should play out and if additions are required.

From here work began on the colour storyboards where key artwork is designed including the Samurai character, Geisha’s and dragons, along with colour schemes and the final logo resolve.

Supportive Drawing/Sketches

Although my Samurai character is seen only in silhouette form throughout the sequence, a full armour design was drawn with decorative elements referencing the olympic rings. Drawing the character this way helped to establish clear details when viewed as a simple outline.

Colour Storyboards

Colour Animatic

Using a new music track, sound effects and a more established art style, I created a colour animatic offering a close representation of intent for the final animated sequence.

Selected Stills

The following represents selected stills from the final 60 sec animated sequence that can be viewed at the top of this page.