Blur Studio was tapped by director David Fincher to create the opening title sequence for his highly-anticipated film, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
From Blur press release:
Venice, CA -- Blur Studio was tapped by longtime collaborator, director David Fincher, to create the opening title sequence for his highly-anticipated film, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, based on the first story of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy. “All that I’m asking you to do, is reinvent any expectations of what a title sequence could be,” was the project’s creative mandate directly from Fincher. With that, Blur co-founder and the title sequence’s creative director Tim Miller began working with Fincher to cull key moments in the Trilogy that would lend themselves to abstract imagery and visual metaphors. Along with that process, the Blur team compiled concept art establishing a high-gloss black-on-black, liquefied macabre look that captivates viewers from the first frame.
“Working with David, the creative journey is always a partnership and a collaboration and you KNOW that the destination will be worth the trip,” explained Miller. “From the beginning, David’s goal was to tell the entire story of the trilogy in 2 ½ minutes. The question was how to visualize that and how abstract we could be. Once our design direction was established, David drove the process with a desire to convey ‘a buried story, a fever dream covered in black primordial ooze, through the visuals.”
Blur broke the Trilogy down into quintessential moments that could be translated through iconic imagery from the books, i.e.: a pressed flower, an intricate tattoo, a wasp and elements bursting into flame. Those moments were distilled into vignettes that could be expressed visually. A total of 26 independent vignettes were approved by Fincher to build into the sequence. Each one is a mini-story built entirely in CG, told from a variety of camera angles. During the editorial Blur shuffled the deck, allowing the vignettes to play out in a frenetic, non-linear clash of concepts employing the hard-hitting, fast cutting style established by Fincher in the first trailer, also cut to "Immigrant Song" covered by Karen O and Trent Reznor. There were a total of 252 shots in the 2 ½ minute clip; each cut lasts about a mere 24 frames or fewer. Blur also created the video for "Immigrant Song" using elements from the opening title sequence that was released online on December 10th as a teaser for the film.
The sequence was built entirely in computer graphics to allow for ‘in the round’ storytelling, so that each event could be viewed from multiple camera angles offering the best compositions, vantage points and extreme close-ups. The final clip used 3D scans of the film’s leading actors along with elements, including the Dragon and Phoenix tattoos, designed and modeled for the film and title sequence by Blur.
The most technically challenging part of the project was adding computer generated fluid simulations to nearly every element in the spot. Black ooze came flooding, dripping, clumping, spurting, jetting and pouring in and around everything in frame. This black ‘dream ooze’ was the unifying element that established the look of the piece. The computer simulations required to build such realistic-looking liquids were very complex and took hours, and sometimes days to run. Blur tapped fluid FX specialists Spatial Harmonics and Fusion CIS to help bolster Blur’s internal team of 20 artists working on the job. The sequences were then carefully lit in CG with an artful eye to provide a very natural, real-word look as if the sequence has been filmed in live action.
Blur Studio is an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated production studio based in Venice, California. Founded in 1995, the company provides award-winning animation, effects and design for a wide range of media – short films, large format films, commercials, concept art, feature effects, music videos, game cinematics and broadcast design. Notable clients include ABC, Disney, Universal Pictures, CBS, Microsoft, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Sega, Activision, Nickelodeon, FOX Sports and THQ, among others. For more information, please visit www.blur.com.
Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.