Cinerama: A Seattle Legend Comes to Life

Translating original vector images into motion graphics for Seattle's landmark movie theater.


History of the Project

In December 2013 Seattle design and illustration studio Invisible Creature was approached by Vulcan and invited to take part in a major renovation undertaking for the iconic Cinerama theater located in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood on 4th and Lenora. Invisible Creature's contribution to the project became the incredible mural now wrapping the building's walls.

As Invisible Creature thought through the initial design of the mural, there were several elements they wanted to capture:

I wanted to acknowledge and respect Cinerama as a whole—the historic technology, the beauty and charm of the era, the visual design of Cinerama. But it was also important that we didn’t dwell too much on the past. After all, this was a multi-million dollar renovation that pointed towards the future. The key was to aim towards what was next, while paying homage to what has come before.
Don Clark, Co-Founder

Read Invisible Creature's full case study here.

According to Invisible Creature, the concept all parties decided to pursue was a visual scattering of cinema’s greatest genres: action, adventure, horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, all integrated and seamlessly woven into each other like a story, with one genre leading into the next. The color scheme stayed true to Cinerama's classic red and blue, and integrated a lighter blue and a few darker hues of the original two colors. The angular lines of the original Cinerama logo are reflected throughout the mural

The mural inspired an overall Cinerama brand identity overhaul that touched every aspect of the moviegoing experience. Invisible Creature designed everything, from interior signage to employee T-shirts, business cards, and silk-screened posters. The only piece left to create was the Cinerama bumper reel that plays preceding the beginning of each film.

How Belief Agency Was Involved

Invisible Creature invited Belief Agency to help translate their original art into the animated bumper reel.

The most challenging part of this project was knowing what to animate. With highly detailed artwork like this, it’s easy to want to animate everything—but the ultimate result of doing that would feel too overwhelming and busy. The first step was to decide which pieces to draw focus to and solidify the overall story we wanted to tell. Working closely with Don Clark’s team, we put together the plan that brought the art to life.

A Nod to the Past

One fun detail to look for in the animation is the cowboy. In the original Invisible Creature art there was a cowboy riding a horse and originally we were just going to make it gallop. But after some thought it occurred to us that this was the perfect opportunity to tip our collective hats to Eadweard Muybridge’s 1878 film The Horse in Motion—the first film ever made. (Watch all 15 seconds of it here.) Being such an important landmark in film, we wanted to recreate the movement exactly.

This required a painstaking process in which Belief Agency's post-production supervisor Andy Maier animated the original Invisible Creature artwork over the top of Muybridge’s original film, frame-by-frame, in order to match the movement down to the very last detail. Having the freedom to create little easter eggs like this was just one more detail that made the project an absolute blast to work on.

Special thanks to Invisible Creature for letting us be a part of such a fun project.

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  • Motion Graphics
  • Animation