“The Canadians” Invade the NBA

You don’t have to be a basketball fan (or a Canadian) to appreciate the spirited character work in this series of branded content films by Toronto studio Reactiv for the NBA, Sportsnet, and sponsor Tangerine Bank.

Reactiv director and co-founder Alon Isocianu: “The Canadians is a short-form animated series highlighting Canadian stars playing in the NBA. In each episode, a player shares an anecdote that gets playfully re-imagined through animation.

“Reactiv was approached by Sportsnet to produce and animate the series, which included developing the look, style, and overall tone. Both Sportsnet and the NBA were incredibly open to our approach, which was a real blessing.

“The initial brief called for animation but didn’t box us into a specific tone or style other than a desire to appeal to a savvy and smart #NBATwitter target demographic.

“The character design, and general aesthetic we developed, was born out of wanting to accentuate and embellish the personalities of the players and their stories.

“We wanted to make everything feel super-expressive while at the same time maintaining a kind of cohesive, clean aesthetic that discards any unnecessary information (and just focuses on the funny details of a story).

“We did have to contend with the fact that, due to the pandemic, all the player interviews were conducted via zoom. We chose to embrace that by integrating the zoom interviews (and any other relevant live-action footage) into actual screens within our animated world.

“This was our first significant foray into 3D character work and a dream come true to create stylized versions of some of our favorite NBA personalities (and an animated version of Barack Obama). There’s also lots of fun little easter eggs sprinkled in every episode, for the super hardcore NBA fans.

“The episodes aired during halftime of NBA TV broadcasts on Sportsnet throughout the 2020/2021 season, as well as on Sportsnet’s official website and all social platforms.”

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (above)
Dwight Powell

Luguentz Dort

Dillon Brooks

Nickeil Alexander-Walker

Chris Boucher

Client: Sportsnet, NBA Canada
Presenting Sponsor: Tangerine Bank

Production: Reactiv
Director: Alon Isocianu
EP/Producer: Anna Junger
3D Designer/Animator: Jon Hutton, James Johnson
Compositing/Color: Alon Isocianu
Additional writing: Geoff Anhorn
Storyboard artist: Rae Scarfo
2D Superhero logo illustration: Dave Franciosa

Edit: Outsider Editorial
Editors: John Gallagher, Calum J Moore, Cam Anderson
Assistant Editor: Bryan Reuben
Producer: Kayan Choi

Online: Vince Monteleone @ Sportsnet

Music: Andrew Gordon Macpherson
Sound design: Boombox Sound