Fast Film

Inspired by the launch of ManvsMachine’s cinematic idents for Film4, we asked six industry creatives behind some of the most innovative idents to name their own favourite miniature masterpiece. 

Large idents

What is your all-time favourite ident?

Mike Alderson, ManvsMachine

A real stand-out ident moment for me was (and still is) the audio-reactive S4C idents created in 2007 by Proud and Minivegas. Thanks to some very impressive bespoke software, specific parts of the live-action scene react intelligently to the live voiceover, meaning no ident is ever quite the same twice. Love 'em.

Simon Dixon, DixonBaxi

It’s an obvious choice but a pivotal moment in channel branding: the Channel 4 ident from the early Eighties. As a young and impressionable creative, I was interested in all things graphic, and in 1982 something arrived on my TV that blew away the boring, soft and staid world of British TV. It was a bold new vision. Yes it was dynamic, it was colourful, it was in 3D, but the strength came from the Pavlovian response it created in the viewer. You knew it represented TV content that was new, fresh and provocative. The key was the repetitive purity and power of the visual and, more importantly, audible brand signature. The more you saw it, the more you believed Channel 4 meant something.

Doug Stewart, HarrimanSteel

Throughout the late Nineties, nothing could drag me from the sofa during BBC 2’s 6-7pm magic hour. A solid block of Simpsons and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, glued together by my fondest ident memories. There have been some classic ‘2s’ over time, but the Bug Zapper sits on the throne. The camera orbits around that menacing wall-mounted number ‘2’ with a soundtrack of throbbing bell chimes, while a housefly curiously flutters, then kamikazes into fluorescent doom. But as he spirals off in a smoke-trail cliffhanger, we all know he makes it out alive… Right?

Lisa Hill, Lambie-Nairn

Channel 4 has its roots firmly in our agency’s history (we created the original Channel 4 puzzle logo and ident). The scale and boldness of the Channel 4 live action idents is a masterclass in a broadcaster really knowing its brand and understanding its audience’s mindset. While other channels were busy making flashy, fast-paced animations, Channel 4 produced these considered and enticing surreal films, which build to a fleeting view of their famous ‘building block’ logo. I love these idents, especially the ‘Block of Flats’.

Rob Fowler, Wonder Associates

For me, it has to be Warner Communications, designed in 1972. It’s still used by Warner Music Group today and can be spotted in the odd Oscar-winning film, such as Argo. Created by design icon Saul Bass, it was made to last and represents his "thinking made visible" approach to identity work. The stylised ‘W’ set within a screen-like shape is smart, simple and beautiful. It has that rare capacity to represent the many different parts of its company, from magazines and comic books to motion pictures, television and music. Four decades on, it remains timeless and will always adorn my pinboard.


Without any hesitation we'd say the Channel 4 idents. No only because they’re well executed and beautiful to watch, but also because they inspire a sort of game with the viewer who enjoys seeking the number ‘4’ in a fascinating and hovering long shot. We love when things are made to involve and consider the viewer, pushing the branding to a higher level.