STUCK ON EMPTY

Picture the "munchies".

The e-mail began, “Any interest in doing a super-fast turnaround project with your good friends at Science News?”  

Design Director, Beth Rakouskas, was working on a story about why eating vegetable oil reacts in our bodies like marijuana, giving us the munchies and making us hungry all the time.  Beth needed a cover picture and opener ASAP. She wanted a cover photo that would show a hungry eater with some sort of “fullness meter” that was stuck on empty.  Science News was on the newsstands and our cover needed to be dramatic enough to grab someone’s attention while they were rushing for a train.  
    The problem was how to show a person and a meter and give it a strong presence. How about a person wearing a meter? Let’s say a funky belt buckle? And, what if we show only the belly expanding over the belt buckle? We could carry the rest of the concept into the opening shot: a guy actively digging in to a table full of oily foods…meter stuck on empty.  We pitched the ideas by phone. Beth got onboard and took them to the editors.

 

The next morning she wrote back with a fleshed out vision of how she imagined each shot. Here are her thoughts on the cover:

Belt buckle meter is the main attraction. The belt buckle is a very funky style "empty" written on one side and "full" on the other and a prominent arrow pointing to "empty." The man is chunky, not obese. We are zoomed in very close to the buckle with just shirt and pants showing, no other background to the image. His clothes look strained…

We asked Jason Loik to design and build the belt buckle. Jason is a brilliant sculptor.  He also creates action figures for one of the big toy companies and has a killer imagination. He researched hundreds of buckles and gauges and we sat together sketching ideas for a hybrid. By the following day he had a 3-D computer drawing of the buckle, sent it to Beth and got the green light to build it.
     In the meantime Babs was busy selecting tables, plates, food, shirts, and belts and was styling the opener photo. We made a series of test shots working closely with Beth and Assistant Art Director Theresa Dubé at Science News to be sure the text and image would flow well across two pages and not fall into the magazine’s gutter.

On the day of the shoot, Beth was able to give us feedback from Washington while we were shooting at Trillium Studios in Massachusetts. Photoshop specialist Rick Kyle worked with us in the studio that day compositing images on the fly so Beth could see how the images would look on the page.
     We finished shooting on Saturday night. Rick wrapped up the compositing and color correction on Sunday. We met Beth's Monday morning deadline, the issue went to press on Wednesday and we breathed a collective sigh of relief.

 
 

Client: Science News
Science News
Design Director: Beth Rakouskas 
Science News Assistant Art Director: Theresa Dubé
Photography: Cary Wolinsky
Model: Jason Loik
Prop Design: Jason Loik 
Production Design: Babs Wolinsky
Photo Compositing: Rick Kyle, 5000K