The Mill LA’s design team used extreme close-up, high speed photography in super
slow motion to produce a titles sequence echoing the magical themes of ‘Snow
White and the Huntsman’.
|The result is an absorbing series of familiar images and objects that become abstracted and hyper-real. The director and creative director of the title sequence, Henry Hobson, explained that the director Rupert Sanders chose to place the main title sequence at the end of the movie instead of the beginning, which affected decisions on the titles design and looks. The titles were a chance to tell the Snow White story in a new way by stylising distinctive graphical elements in the props, costumes and creatures, and this approach could also help emphasise the film’s major themes.|
Dark and Edgy
The Mill’s team handled concepts and design, a high-speed shoot with a Phantom camera capturing the required costumes and props, digital modelling and compositing of the various elements. The finished sequence was a combination of live-action, specially shot footage, elements from the film itself for the backgrounds, and a very stylized CG animation of the shattering effect. They also created a custom font for the project.
Because they had so many shots to get through on the day, the DP Jim Matolsz had tested a simple lighting set up beforehand that allowed them to keep a static lighting arrangement while moving the scenes in and out of the set up.
“The raven was nearly the last shot of the day and the creature practically lit itself. The glistening plumage responded really well to the edge lighting and simple approach. Even so, filming the raven was the trickiest element of the shoot. When shooting Phantom you only get the tiniest of moments to get the action you need, so working with an animal to get the performance you're after in a split second takes a lot of patience and ingenuity. The results were worth the effort because the texture we got on the bird's wings from the camera are fantastic,” Henry said.
“Rupert Sanders had tested the shattering practically earlier on, trying materials such as black wax and stone, but the explosions caused a lot of dust and in the high speed moment it was difficult to see the beauty of what was happening. So when we came to produce them ourselves, 3D modelling and dynamics artist Ed Quirk and the creative director Andrew Proctor set up a simulation of the tests in Softimage and began methodically testing and working out which finish would best suit the dark lighting from our camera shoot.” Other software used in the project’s pipeline was Nuke and After Effects.
The team needed to create striking, cinema-quality images that frame and focus on the principle titles. Images and text had to harmonise well enough to simultaneously captivate the viewer’s eyes and guide them through the titles content. In Henry’s view, this image-to-text integration is why the titles work so well.
Henry said, “Usually a font with this level of detail would take months but unfortunately, as we only had a couple of weeks, a parallel timeline seemed to be the best way to work. The font was developed from an existing typeface, before being broken down and rebuilt. Layers and multiple stages of flourishes and details were then constructed by Typeface Designer Manija Emran. Each letterform had a range of custom glyphs that allowed each name in the sequence to have its own personality.”
The Mill’s Executive Producer in LA, Stephen Venning, said these titles sequences represent a ‘statement of intent for design at The Mill’. "While The Mill is known for high-end VFX, 'Snow White and the Huntsman' marks a first for the team in designing, directing and creating a major movie title sequence from start to finish. This is an exciting new direction for our company," he said. www.themill.com
Post-Production / VFX Company: The Mill
Mill Office: Los Angeles
Executive Producer: Stephen Venning
VFX Producer: Lee Buckley
Creative Director: Henry Hobson & Andrew Proctor
Colourist: Greg Reese
Typeface Designer: Manija Emran
Lead 3D/2D Compositing: Eugene Guaran
Additional Compositing: Ed Laag
2D Type Animation & Finishing: Justin Sucara
Editors: Carsten Becker and Stuart Robertson
3D Particles: Yorie Kumalasari
3D Modelling and Dynamics: Ed Quirk
Colour Producer: LaRue Anderson