This Is How We Make Moonshiners Shine!


Sometimes motion graphics artists familiarize themselves with some unusual industries while pursuing that perfect image.  From becoming experts in pyrotechnics and meteorology to extensively researching tattooing and even men’s fashion, a seasoned graphics technician can be an encyclopedia of eclectic info.  And sometimes they’re hired to construct comprehensive motion graphics on how to make Moonshine, and intriguing information just falls in their laps.

The Molecule‘s own Graphic Artists Chad Sikora and Chris Hayes, now potentially illegal liquor brewers as well, were given that unique opportunity.  They were put in charge of creating and overseeing all motion graphics for Discovery’s new featured show Moonshiners.  Working primarily with After Effects and Cinema 4D, they created the “Ball Jar” title sequence along with all maps and “How it Works” motion graphics throughout the show.

“We played around with a lot of ideas for the title image of Moonshiners but in the end the client really liked the ‘Ball Jar’ iconography,” Chris Hayes explained.  “Because it was the hardest to animate, we had only included the idea to round out the presentation, but in the end we agreed it was strongest concept.”

First Chad and Chris modeled the jar and worked to make the lighting convey a backwoods, night-scene feel. Then, to add that extra level of detail, Chad and Chris independently filmed wine “legs” through an ordinary wine glass, and laid it over the modeled jar to create the illusion of liquor running down the glass.

“From the onset, the whole thing was kind of a gamble,” Chad Sikora said.  “The client wanted liquor sloshing around in the jar and, faced with the complexity entailed to pull that off purely in Cinema 4D, we came up with shooting the wine glass.  But we had no idea whether it would work until we laid it onto the image.”

The graphic almost completed, Chad and Chris put the title in traditional “Ball Jar” font and cleaned it up for readability.  Finally, they made several versions of it jumping off the side of the jar.  One, in which a box, branded with the title, closes over the jar as if to package it up for sale, was promising.  In the end, however, they went with the simpler animation: the Moonshiners title jumping off the bottle and with a “home-made,” electric-glow illumination.

“But the most fun part of the project,” Chris said, “was making the ‘How to Make Moonshine’ info graphics.”

“Yeah,” Chad added, “Looking at those images over and over throughout the process, you learn a lot.”