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The Mill Creates Titles for 'Snow White & the Huntsman'

Combining high-speed Phantom footage, elements from the film, CGI and a custom designed font, The Mill L.A. created an intensely dark and truly gothic sequence for Universal’s “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

From The Mill L.A.:

Los Angeles, CA -- Combining high-speed Phantom footage, elements from the film, CGI and a custom designed font, The Mill L.A. created an intensely dark and truly gothic sequence for Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman.

“The Snow White and the Huntsman titles are a real statement of intent for design at The Mill," said Stephen Venning, Executive Producer at The Mill L.A. “While The Mill is known for high-end VFX, Snow White and the Huntsman marks a true first for the team in designing, directing and creating a major movie title sequence from start to finish. Titles have become an iconic part of some of the best movies of all time; this is an exciting new direction for our company.”

The project involved a complete production cycle for the sequence, from concept and design, to executing a phantom shoot to capture all costumes and props, through to CGI and VFX compositing of the various elements. It also features The Mill’s custom font design for the heads and the film opening titles themselves.

The Mill’s production team collaborated closely with Snow White director Rupert Sanders, exploring several concept routes before conceiving the idea of an almost photoreal high-speed sequence of an authorial battle scene to emphasize the epic proportions of the story. The Mill used a high-speed Phantom camera to captured the beautiful graphical explosions of the dark knights in action, creating grandiose and mythical imagery for the final battle.

The most challenging production element was filming the raven. “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, dedication and ingenuity. The results were well worth our effort as the texture we got on the bird's wings from the Phantom camera are fantastic.,” The Mill posted on Vimeo.

“From a visual effects standpoint, our greatest challenge was to create a high speed macro shot of the ‘shattering‘ of the dark knights. The film VFX team would have had months to crack this in their shots. As the title design team we had to effectively mimic their effect with a macro level of detail in a 10th of the time.”

“The biggest challenge was creating striking movie level quality of images that frame and effectively draw focus to the key principle titles. Images and text need to work together in perfect harmony to captivate the viewer and guide them through the titles content at the same time. These titles work so well because of the successful symbiosis between the phantom footage quality and the text.”

The intricate design and exploration for the titles and the main film title at the beginning of the movie culminated in creating a custom font for the encapsulating the classic feel of the setting while at the same time boasting a contemporary and sharp look. Positioned at the end of the film, the titles have a unique challenge -- to tell the story in a new and captivating way.  Abstract imagery combines with a hyper-real action sequence as the viewers find themselves deep inside the epic battle between good and evil.

Creative Director Henry Hobson developed the completely customized typeface. The new font was named Ravenna after the Evil Queen played by Charlize Theron. Ravenna is bold and dramatic, yet subdued to match the multifaceted character and her intriguing steadfast ways.

“In the case of Snow White and the Huntsman the main title sequence shows at the end of the movie as opposed to the beginning,” Hobson said. “This was a strong creative choice by director Rupert Sanders and one that guided our exploration for the titles.”

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.