Layer 7 from the Moss/Whalen Match.

Layer Tennis How It All Went Down

Backstage with Olly Moss

by Steve Delahoyde

When a Layer Tennis season is running in the fall, it happily coincides with Halloween and quite often results in one of the favorite matches of both the crowd and the players alike. That the volleys have to be themed to the holiday is certainly not found in any statute in the Official Layer Tennis Book of Rules and Regulations, but it seems a near-irristable challenge for players. Resist they did not, as Olly Moss and Tom Whalen gored pixels through ten terrifying volleys. Though our voice was trembling, we spoke to Olly after the match for his thoughts.

So, now that we've gotten the cleaners in here to mop up all the blood, how do you think the match went?

I think it went really well, but it felt like a protracted anxiety attack.

Since you landed the match preceeding Halloween, do you think you and Tom gave the people an appropriate amount of spooky?

Tom definitely did. Mine were less scary, although I almost went with a "worst nightmare" first serve, full of Comic Sans, gradients and lens flare. I think that would have scared a few people.

How much pre-planning did you guys get up to, figuring out the tone or themes?

I spent about four hours the night before carving the Troll Face pumpkin in preparation for my final volley. Kind of stupid, really. I didn't get to bed until 4.

I think everyone in the audience had the idea that the match would feature movie posters, in some form, along the way, given your previous work and a storied history of scary films with creepy posters. Any films that you were particularly excited to revisit and re-imagine?

I've been meaning to do a Red Dawn of the Dead parody poster for a while and I was glad that Tom presented me the opportunity to finally throw it together.

Did you find yourself a bit surprised that you were suddenly making something with Babe in it?

Yes! Although there was a point when I thought we might get stuck in a Bacon vortex from which escape was impossible.

I wanted to ask you specifically about your Layer 7, which I think received the most laughs here at the studio as well as on Twitter. Did you have a notion from the start that you should go a little meta? Or came to you as things played out?

I was really looking forward to staying clear of movie posters for my Layer Tennis game, but the Halloween brief kind of drew me back in. I like to poke fun of myself for relying on that style all the time and I try to stay self-aware about the shortcomings of my work. I'd rather laugh at them than hide them, I guess.

Also, I feel like a lot of people doing the vintage movie thing are missing the point. They copy the style of all those amazing old posters and completely ignore the thinking behind them. A good idea is the bedrock of a good design, and I feel that a lot of the posters from this redesign fad are missing that essential point.

Can you walk us through the process of making of that volley?

It's mostly Illustrator with a little Photoshop thrown in. There's a great font called Hitchcock that I use for the Bass-style writing, but you have to modify it heavily to get it looking properly authentic.

Following up on that, you do such an amazing job at distressing an image, making it look 100% genuinely aged. Can you share some of your secrets?

No real secrets. Just a little noise, vignetting and a screen layer.

Usually I'd ask what response by Tom surprised you the most, but since this was Halloween themed, I'll ask which one was the most shocking? Or rather, one that caught you off guard a bit (in the spookiest way possible, of course)?

I was completely shocked that he managed to make Layer 8 in 15 minutes. The man is a freak of nature!

Have to ask: I overheard that you were dressed as a certain character as you played the match. Care to comment?

I was at the Threadless Halloween party and dressed as the sparkly vampire dude from Twilight. Awkward...

Thanks for playing, Olly. Any final thoughts about the match?

It was a pleasure. Cheers to Tom and Jeremy and thanks to you for giving me the opportunity to waste everyone's afternoon.

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