Mainframe Rebrand Nickelodeon

Nick Rebrand

London based Mainframe recently showed what they are capable of with an epic rebranding of Nickelodeon. Unusually for Nick, they let the design take the centre stage, with their flagship characters tagging along to enjoy the ride.

View Rebrand
View Breakdown

I had chance for a quick catch-up with Mainframe’s Managing Director Adam Jenn and team Mainframe for a little Q&A session:

What tools did you use to create the spots?

The main tool of choice was Maya for all the 3D modeling, rigging and animation. Each shot was tracked using SynthEyes and outputted to Maya for the main scene work and also to After Effects for the later compositing stages. Once the animation was completed, an average of 5-6 different render passes were outputted allowing a greater level of fine tuning within the composite. Final colour grading was all handled within After Effects.

On a project of this magnitude you must of had to please a lot of people. Could you please give us a little insight into the whole creative process?

When the process started we were commissioned by the UK team to create the idents just for the UK channel. As the project developed other territories got behind the work but at present we’re not allowed to talk about which other countries will be using the idents.

The idea devised by our client—the creative director at Nickelodeon, Peter Drake—was to try and really connect with the fantastical side of kids’ imagination. Mainframe was brought in to work with in-house Art Director, Akin Akinsiku, to produce all of the idents from Akin’s ideas and the commissioned illustrators’ sketches.

It was never the intention to create something for other designers to marvel at; it was always about something that would blow the kids away. Akin is a very exacting guy to work with, but I really think the results merit all the hard work everyone put into the project.

Technically, working for so many markets was pretty challenging with each ident having to be reversioned with kid, without kid, Nick branded + Nickelodeon branded, HD, SD 4:3, SD 16:9, PAL and NTSC frame rates. That’s quite a number of variations for each ident.

Each sting seems to have it’s own unique look to it, yet retains an element that keeps it all under the same umbrella. Was this a conscious decision from the start? How did you go about coming up with the look / looks?

When the project started, the idea was to commission as many as ten different illustrators to bring their own look and feel to each ident. As the boards started coming in, it was clear that although there was some amazing work coming back it wasn’t really sitting very well together as a rebrand, and the work of Will Barras was really standing out.

It was a pretty tough decision to make but the client opted to proceed with Will’s illustrations for all of the idents. One of our major tasks was to bring Will Barras’s sketches to life and build environments that they’d sit comfortably in. Because of the sheer quantity of work, our 3D team also created a lot of extra characters and environments for the scenes from scratch.

Many of Nick’s well-known characters make subtle cameos in the these vignettes. This is unusual (and refreshing) considering the way most network rebrands (see Cartoon Network) put the characters up front and center under a blazing spotlight.

Did the idea to treat Nick’s characters in this way come from Mainframe? Or did it come from Nick?

Originally there weren’t going to be any of the Nickelodeon properties in the idents at all but in the end Nickelodeon felt that a subtle nod to the characters was the way to go. The clients wanted to connect with the audience and entertain them rather than sell to them.

Channel: Nickleodeon UK
Nickleodeon Clients: Peter Drake (Creative Director+Original Concept), Akin Akinsiku (Director And Art Director)
Nickelodeon Producers Will Poole, July Knight

Producer: Adam Jenns
Animation Team:
Marcus Moresby
Carl Fairweather
Arvid Niklasson
Jimmy Johansson
Mickael Abensur
Jerone Dernoncourt
Call Allman

Will Barras

Ian Chatham at Blue Post Production

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About the author

James Wignall

Director / Art-Director based in London.



Very well done spots, albeit a bit seizure inducing in alot of areas.


My head hurts, it looks like a visual mess, not only that but the audio really gives you a migraine.

jonny plummer

wow, freakin wow!


Wow! Awesome animation, but the pacing is a bit too fast…make me dizzy after watching it. I’m hoping to see more detail in it. I like the section with human element in it. Overall great!


I too now have a migrane, luckily they would be broken up when actually aired, but it would’ve been nice to have been warned of the effects of watching this piece.


I’m confused: What exactly was migraine-inducing? The camera moves?

Might as well get used to that. The youngins these days sure are. ;-)


I love them. The pace works for me because they’re attention getting and leave you thinking about what just happened.

I don’t think they would individually be that headache inducing when viewed one at a time, as they will be when Nickelodeon airs them. I’ve found most idents to be a little much when watching 20 of them back to back.


Anyone know the music on the breakdown reel?


I thought it was all spectacular. The overload works for me because like justin said, the youngins can handle this pace without breaking a sweat. The worlds are lush and fun to look at over and over.


I doubt the young ones will like it – it’s not warm or inviting one bit, it’s cold erratic and noisy! I’ve been producing kids animation for over 15 years, I know what I’m talking about. I doubt this will be used for more than a year.

Simon Robson

15 years…Wow, did you get a gold watch already?


i feel like we wonder why kids can’t think in a straight line for more than five seconds at a time. who knows, maybe that will work out awesome for everyone, but i’m sceptical.

anyway that track is in for the kill. i tried to find it once before through regular channels, but nobody sells it in the US yet. here ya go: (remix)


Ah, so that’s who won the rebrand :)


Actually this was for Nick UK. Plus et Plus won the US rebrand. Still haven’t heard much on how that is going but would love to see it.


turns out Plus et Plus didn’t win it! another company did, everyone seemed to think P.E.P. did tho..


what the hell has Plus Et Plus been up to?
And does anyone know who really won the redesign?


this was really well done. also keep in mind that not only will these be broken apart, the pauses on the SCREENS for the second half, will all linger to show the daily line-ups reels. which will also slow it down more so that the animations are more like interstitials rather than a constantly moving and reassembling chaotic whirlwind.

also, the audio may change for air, as i agree some parts were a little overwhelming.

migraine inducing? guys come on. it takes much more than THAT to cause a headache these days.



You can tell when something is good…the negative comments revert to a conservative tone..”overwhelming, migraine-inducing, too fast, kids will never respond to that (as if anyone could really know without being a kid)..blah blah blah” – that’s what a soon-to-be retired creative directors say when they don’t get it.

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