Graphic design is used in a range of situations throughout television: titles and end credits for programmes, programme content (stills, captions, animated sequences etc.), on-screen promotion, channel identities as well as all graphic ‘props’ for programmes such as dramas or sitcoms, designing signs, newspapers, product packaging etc.
Graphic design and television have gone hand in hand from the very creation of the medium:
However the biggest visual change to television graphics since colour, was the introduction of computer technology and the ability to manipulate television images in an electronic space, rather than just leaving them as purely photographic images reduplicating three-dimensional spaces. The first years of television saw a graphic style heavily influenced by that of cinema being the only existing medium with similarities to television (indeed many of ITV’s first regional franchises were owned by companies with interests in cinema such as Granada and ABC). However, although television gradually developed its own style, it was with televisions growing use of technology that it started to contrast strongly with that of cinema.
Brain Eley, Creative Director at Lambie-Nairn – a leading brand consultancy that has its roots in television graphic design – has been quoted as saying:
Perhaps where television graphics have been used to greatest effect is within news. In what can be a chaotic world where footage isn’t always the best quality (with an items relevance and newness of most importance), news graphics play an important role in striping stories down to the bare essentials. Wars become maps, economies become graphs, political arguments turn into graphical conflict, press releases are presented as an ordered list of bullet points, and these enable television to carry on more effectively the activity of speculation. Such graphics became so commonplace that they were the subject of their own kind of graphic satire – the most notable being The Day Today.