VRNZ 2014 I.O.M Classic TT campaign website

Velocette Racing New Zealand website, showcase, brand & identity systems design, photography, promotional design and advertising, web designVRNZ_logo_radiused_256pxAs a designer every now & then you get involved with a project that takes on a life of its own. Velocette Racing New Zealand’s campaign to rebuild and race the Eldee Velocette at the Isle of Man Classic TT in August 2014 had its beginning in the 1950s. The story of the Eldee Velocette is part of both NZ and Australia’s classic motorcycle racing folklore.

Eldee-2, magazine advertisement, ClassicRacer,

At the Hampton Downs racing event in February 2013 MagentaDot Brands joined a small team of dedicated classic motorcycle racing enthusiasts all contributing their skills and resources to the project not-for-profit. MagentaDot undertook to provide VRNZ the full multi-disciplinary designer’s kit of branding skills, graphic design, web design, writing and advertising…  the VRNZ brand’s promotional and advertising campaign is a showcase and a media platform, the journal of the home-brewed Kiwi project to build the fastest Velocette Lightweight Special of the 50s from downunder and race it at the Isle of Man Classic T.T. in August 2014.

The website is part of a clear and straightforward brand toolkit created for VRNZ. It aims not just to tell the story of a Colonial Velo’s return to the 2014 I.O.M. Classic TT, but to get the reader to connect powerfully with the passion that drives the men who champion this ambitious project. With the liberal use of noisy and dynamic action photos, with slideshow ‘visual essays’, short pithy videos, and both short and long-form articles about the machines and the personalities behind them the site aims to get visitors to ‘smell the Castrol’ of Classic Motorcycle Racing.

As anticipated, the project is taking a very large investment of time, materials, and top-of-the-line professional expertise—so it can always do with more support. Hence MagentaDot is selling the VRNZ merchandise we designed for the campaign here on the ‘Goods’ page of this site as well.

The brand manual and toolkit

Velocette, classic motorcycle, toolkit, 1923

Typographic design and handlettering plays a key role throughout VRNZ’s identity. Central are the fastidiously re-drawn pair of handlettered, slanted & looped, ‘Velocette’ and ‘Eldee Velocette’ brands. Alongside these is the VRNZ brand inspired by the commemorative ‘T.T. WINNERS’ badging that Velocette placed on the petrol tanks of their ‘K’ series motorcycles after their string of TT wins at the Isle of Man that began in 1926, ‘28 and ‘29.

Velocette, 1926-28-29 T.T. Winners, engine, detail, NZ Classic Motorcycles, NZCMRR, Pukekohe, Classic Racing, February 2012

Velocette ‘T.T. WINNERS’ badging.

In print, Trade Gothic, League Gothic and Compacta, are used throughout VRNZ’s identity. The clarity of these fonts works well in print and online applications and complements the classic copperplate logotype. The colour palette of the website is limited to three colours, red, gold and black, that work together to reinforce the proud history of the Velocette marque. In print the palette is enhanced by a refreshing, agile cyan blue, and a bold red. The blue gives a nod to the colour Les Diener painted the Eldees and has been used to great effect in media advertising to convey a sense of clarity and speed and achieving magazine page dominance with small ads.Eldee Velocette, front three-quarter, poster, A2, portrait, Craftsmanship

Photography plays a key role as well in the brand toolkit. Enlarged and cropped, sometimes retouched composites of noisy and aggressive black and white action photos from the VRNZ archive are complimented by vivid ‘best-in-class’ contemporary photos that reinforce the strength and vitality of classic motorcycle racing downunder in the 21st century across all marques, which VRNZ takes great pride in.

In the heyday of classic motorcycle racing, in the period from the teens through to the 60s illustration was essential to the promotion of the Manx TT both in advertising and posters for the event and for advertising the individual marques. Styles varied from dynamic ‘boys-own’ paintings to mixed-media collages of photos, airbrushing and comic-book art illustrative techniques.

Les Diener made the first Eldee Special in the 50s so illustrations based on the photos of him riding the bike back then are a great choice for a creative direction with a strong point of difference that promotes the classic history of the bike and the presence, power and clarity the bike has proved it has racing in 2013–14 NZCMRR classic racing events.

The Process

Working closely with the client the process began by fully researching the racing of classic motorcycles, Velocettes and the Eldee Velo in particular and by attending several 3-day classic racing events in the role of action and documentary photographer between 2012—14. I soon got bitten by the classic racing bug.

Eldee Velocette, Isle of Man Classic TT 2014, Bill Swallow, full page advertisment, Biker Rider New Zealand Magazine

For the launch of the paired print and online campaign a noisy and aggressive illustration and layout style that blends the airbrushed comic book techniques of the 50s with present day Moto GP supergraphics was chosen. This approach amplifies the dynamism of the historic project resources and was very effective at driving visitors to the new VRNZ website and blog. The ad appeared in the context of a 7 page Bike Rider NZ ‘Classic Bike’ feature about the Eldee.

To design and build the website to the brief a blend of two approaches is being used; first communicate the broad and deep historical story of the Velocette marque and its place in Motorcycle racing history downunder from archived and contemporary media and first-hand sources, second the descriptive approach relaying clearly and simply the real-life creativity, collaboration, meticulous planning and hard work involved developing a prototype classic racing machine and make it race ready for the world’s most demanding road race. The visual essay/journalistic approach of observing and describing the sequence of events building up to the race, with photos, video, and digitally illustrated infographics as required. The Isle of Man Classic TT 2014 is the destination, the VRNZ blog and Facebook community page first documents the process of getting there and then what happens at the races. The website and blog paired with a 6 month advertising campaign in relevant enthusiast magazines worldwide links the two together in a way that connects the VRNZ and the Isle of Man 2014 project with the global audience interested in classic motorsport today.

The website design and build

Research in January 2014 demonstrated that a combination of the Premium ‘Basis’ template on the Wordpress platform, and MagentaDot Brands multi-disciplinary capabilities offer VRNZ the best fit with the brief, budget and urgent requirement to kick-start the site’s establishment within a very tight time-frame. The paired blog and website platform enables steadily building the breadth and depth of the site content in the period from February through August 2014.

The key role of merchandise and online ordering

Eldee Velocette, t-shirt design, front of black shirt, Velocette Racing New Zealand, MagentaDot Brands.Three of the Eldee 3 IOM 2014 project team members; Murray Aitken, Shaun Chamberlain and Phil Price were among those that had hands-on involvement in the ‘Britten V1000’—the handbuilt race motorcycle designed and built by John Britten and friends in Christchurch New Zealand during the early 1990s. The received wisdom from them is that the role of merchandise to the ongoing sustainability of that project financially was more significant than the proceeds from the 10 bikes made and sold. So it was a priority that a custom range of tshirts is designed and merchandised on the site within 2 months of go-live. The garments are hand-screenprinted by Christchurch firm Global Culture, which is managed by another friendly classic motorcycle racing supporter. To commemorate both the launch of the Eldee-TT in July 2014 I flew to Wellington to shoot a set of heroic publicity photos of the bike equipped and ready for the IOM. In addition to publicity, I made the photos immediately useful for the campaign as merchandise, working up two images into an advertising and promotional poster campaign (to add to the ‘TT T-shirt’ merchandise already selling well).

The Isle of Man Classic TT is the supreme test, what this site is about is motor cycle racing’s quest for perfection, the doing and redoing of a thing that gets you ever closer to the ideal—remove the extraneous, preserve the essential—ultimately driving the Eldee T.T. towards its optimal combination of speed and stamina.

The life of the site goes beyond the IOM Classic TT 2014

A design and advertising alliance that unites print media with the website and two social media platforms is proving an optimal chronicle and megaphone for a project that has a life of its own…

Velocette Racing New Zealand website, showcase, brand & identity systems design, photography, promotional design and advertising, web design

Eldee Velocette, front three-quarter, poster, A2, portrait, Craftsmanship, mock-up

Unveiling the new Eldee T.T.—The launch announcement

The fully equipped and race-ready announcement, and a slideshow documenting the transformation from Eldee-2 to Eldee-T.T..
‘Eldee’ by the way, is the name of the gifted Australian engineer and champion racer Les Diener (L.D.) dubbed this ‘lightweight special Velocette’ when he home-brewed the racing bike the 50s.


Bill Swallow, Eldee Velocette, Eldee-2, portraitJULY 31, 2014, CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND. The V.R.N.Z team is proud to announce the launch of the new Nick Thomson DOHC [1], Dual Ignition Eldee T.T., the 250cc lightweight special is equipped and ready for the Isle of Man Classic T.T., August 2014. Our rider, multiple Manx Grand Prix race winner Bill Swallow, will be competing for the new 250cc class Phil Read Trophy (the new Phil Read Trophy, will go to the first 250cc machine in the Monday’s Okells 350cc Classic TT Race). Bill Swallow is to ride the Eldee Special in the Junior Classic, 25th August. Bill still holds the record for fastest ever average laps around the Isle of Man circuit on single cylinder machines: 1998, 250cc Aermacchi, 98mph (157.72 km/hr). 1996 350cc Aermacchi, 102.23 mph (164.5 km/hr). 1999, 500cc Manx Norton, 108.03mph (173.86 km/hr). At this proud milestone in the campaign we’d also like to express our gratitude to our sponsors…

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Horizontal Directional Drilling, Tru-Line Civil, Akaroa, documentary, photography, Akaroa Water Supply Stage 3, Reticulation Upgrade, Vermeer HDD,

HDD drilling method, Akaroa

TruLine_Civil_logo_radiused_256pxHave just completed the multi-disciplinary set of tasks necessary to prep and publish a new portfolio of the location photo shoot for Tru-Line Civil last month in Akaroa (flagged in my first, test post a few days after the event). This new work/photography portfolio item can now be viewed here on the MagentaDot site, and in the form of a new case study page I’ve loaded onto the Tru-Line Civil website. The set of prep tasks mentioned has included:

  • library tasks, rating, sorting and post-processing the photos in Lightroom and Photoshop.
  • research to enable chronicling what I learned on the day and frame it in the correct technical jargon using the recognised terms for describing events and things.
  • designing and structuring the page content using the Tru-Line CMS.
  • Populating the site with the story and pictures and all the contingent back-end web optimization tasks to embroider the images with tags, captions and descriptions.

The documentary shoot chronicles the Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) construction method practiced by Tru-Line. The shoot documents the drilling of a pilot bore and the subsequent back reaming of a 120m long drinking water supply pipeline up to the summit of Coachmans Road, Akaroa—a small, very busy tourist destination located less than 2 hrs drive from home on scenic Banks Peninsula in the South Island of New Zealand.

Background to the HDD drilling event

Horizontal Directional Drilling, Tru-Line Civil, Akaroa, documentary, photography, Akaroa Water Supply Stage 3, Reticulation Upgrade, Vermeer HDD,

Summit of Coachmans Road, Akaroa. The HDD drilling unit, operator and the supporting equipment needed to assist directional-drilling to work smoothly. Akaroa Harbour basin and the township of Akaroa are the backdrop of these panoramic views.

The HDD drilling and back reaming was a sub-task of the Akaroa Water Supply Stage 3 Reticulation Upgrade, carried out in 2014 by Tru-Line Civil for the Christchurch City Council (sub-contracting to Hawkins Infrastructure). The 180mm ø pipeline is designed to carry treated drinking water pumped up from a new water treatment plant in Akaroa to a new 500 m³ reservoir situated on the ridge between Akaroa and Takamatua.

The big picture

Horizontal Directional Drilling, Tru-Line Civil, Akaroa, documentary, photography, Akaroa Water Supply Stage 3, Reticulation Upgrade

In the receiving trench the crew switch the drill head for the back reaming head.

The photojournalistic objective is always to produce a series of truthful, descriptive, and candid photos of two broad subjects; Tru-Line’s Civil Engineering projects and the disciplines and methodologies used to complete them. The work is objective, I learn about the subject so I may anticipate and flow with the action on the day. Due to the nature of the Civil Engineering and Drainlaying industries, documenting their methods and disciplines most often involves pictures of people, specifically men, at work, using hand-tools and skilfully operating heavy equipment.

This day of shooting is part of a larger, long term project which commenced for the client in 2008, to produce a high quality image archive of their construction methods and completed projects—the photos are both of historical significance to Tru-Line and for immediate use in marketing communications material and contract bid documents that are produced as part of day-to-day operations.

The gear and shooting rationale

Horizontal Directional Drilling, Tru-Line Civil, Akaroa, documentary, photography, Akaroa Water Supply Stage 3, Reticulation Upgrade, Vermeer HDD,

The back reamer passes through a pressure-release well. Wells aligned with the borehole mitigate the potential ecological impacts of sediment-laden water by minimising the potential for unintended frac-outs.

The photos were shot on two Canon a 60D, and 50D using a couple of EF lenses; EFS-10–22mm and EFS-15–85mm IS. I use an Orbis Ring Flash & Arm Kit mounted on a Canon Speedlite 580EX II in daylight, cloudy and shady conditions as it produces a nice even shadowless light well suited to portrait shots and documentary images of people and equipment at work. The broad even illumination is brilliant for shooting subjects moving in and out of shade, and provides great fill light in bright sunlight. I like the way the ringflash also makes high-vis gear sing out on the people in shot even at a distance in daylight, this also highlights people in shot easily overlooked, for example the operator sitting in the shade of an excavator cab on an overcast day.

I treat the shooting of men and machines in action as a kind of news reportage so usually prioritize a faster ISO setting of 400 to be certain of getting the shutter speed and aperture settings I’m after—I’d rather a little grain than soft, out-of-focus and unintentionally motion-blurred images. I use single point auto focus to hone in on my subjects and get tack sharp focus where I want it as I frame up the composition. When the setting, weather conditions and project workflow allow mounting the camera on the tripod and shooting low ISO landscapes with small apertures—sharp backgrounds, blurred action—are called for, while the most picturesque settings inspire the capture of multi-frame panoramas using the ‘Fanotec’ pan head—this is a most rewarding strategy for objectively documenting fleeting hives of human activity in the context of the enduring land, capturing both exquisite detail and grandeur.

2.1m Hydraulic Rocksaw trenching, Tru-Line Civil, Whatamango Bay, Marlborough Sounds, documentary photography, Project K.A.R.E.N. (Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network)

A 5 image, ‘stitched’ 120° panorama of Tru-Line Civil’s 2.1m excavator-mounted rock-saw, trenching a section of UFB fibre-optic cable lay between Whatamango Bay and Waikawa Bay, near Picton, N.Z., for ‘Project K.A.R.E.N.’ (Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network), September 2010. The original file is tack-sharp with great depth of field and is huge, 9000px wide.

HDD, Horizontal Directional Drilling, Akaroa, TruLine Civil

HDD Documentary Shoot, Akaroa

As part of the ongoing project to visually record the client’s range of work methodologies I was contracted to document the span of a day on location in Akaroa.

The brief was to capture a fine-grained record of TLC’s capability in the relatively new Civil Engineering field of “Trenchless Technology”, specifically Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD).

This fast and highly accurate “Horizontal Infrastructure” laying technique is achieved by way of a synchronised deployment of highly skilled and experienced operators, high technology machinery and tight coordination between the project team members. From skilled labourers and drivers up the chain to the site engineer close communication is maintained via modern telecommunications.

After shooting the “drill shot” and subsequent “back-reaming” of a 120m length of a new 180mm watermain in the morning I was tasked to shoot the work involved reinforcing a 25m retaining wall on the hillside below, the first stage in laying foundations for a new pump station as part of the overarching project to upgrade Akaroa’s water supply in both quantity and quality terms by installing a new membrane filtration based water treatment plant.


Client (Industry): TruLine Civil (Construction/Contracting)
Discipline: Documentary photography / Corporate communications design
Format: Website / Case Studies / Methodologies
HDD, Horizontal Directional Drilling, Akaroa, TruLine CivilLocation: Akaroa, New Zealand
Date: Tuesday, 24 June 2014