ESPN shuffles the deck in end of year special design

Recapping the year that was, ESPN’s 2020 look back – “SportsCenter Presents 2020: Heroes, History and Hope” – utilized a deck of cards for its motion design motif.

These cards featured imagery from key moments throughout the year, with opens and rejoins shuffling through the deck with locator lines and text elements adding further context.

ESPN’s Creative Services team of five designers and animators produced over 30 elements and six toolkits for ‘SC 2020,’” said Vin Cannamela of ESPN, who was a producer on the special along with Robbin Dunn.

“Associate Art Director Thomas Maloney created the design for the Open in less than two weeks and 12 custom frontends for features were designed and versioned in less than a week.”

The special filmed outdoors at ESPN’s campus in Bristol, Conn., featuring holiday vistas with lit trees and 13 inches of fresh snow as a backdrop.

Adding to the cold scene was a custom ice sculpture that replicated the special’s logo design, providing an anchor area for talent Lisa Salters and Jeremy Schaap.


“For ‘2020 Heroes, History, Hope,’ we produced 10 different essays by 10 different writers on 10 different topics,” said Cannamela.

“All of the pieces were central to the last year and to the impact felt on sports and society. It was a far-reaching initiative we hoped would help capture the headlines from those who lived it in 2020.”

ESPN notes 51 individual stand-ups were featured in the special which utilized a jib, drone and two cinema cameras.