Picture Mill introduces the unexpected world of Japanese horror with a sequence steeped in blood and fear for director Takashi Shimizus American debut, THE GRUDGE, the unexpected horror hit from Columbia Pictures and Sam Raimis Ghost House.
Creative director William Lebeda recalled, They had a very rough idea, written in the script, of how the title would work, of dripping blood moving on its own. But the more we learned about the film, about the idea of the physical fury, of rage personified, the more we felt like the sequence needed to be ethereal and intangible.
The sequence features a bottomless pool of translucent red liquid that has long strands of black hair undulating through. A single childs hand strikes the surface from below, and motivates the ripples for the title to reveal. The titles themselves are made from ripples and ink that flows in the bloody water.
When we presented the concept, Shimizu thought the hair was so creepy and so in the tone and attitude of the film, that he extended the sequence from just a single title card to include all the cast credits, added Lebeda.
Picture Mill worked closely with director Shimizu and editor Jeff Betancourt to develop this intangible and watery environment. Developing the sequence was a very artful process, explained art director and designer Elaine Alderette. Because we were basically painting with hair and ink, the decisions were based on almost emotional reactions to the images, rather than narrative or plot constraints. The final effect is pure mood and tone, setting the stage for the drama to unfold. Shimizu also kept the goal of the sequence clear. He really wanted the hair to move with a will of its own, not just flow with the liquid, but to have purpose and reason within the structure of the sequence, added Alderettte.
Developing the language of disembodied hands and hair moving through inky water, as the titles flow and disintegrate from one to the next, presented both aesthetic and technical challenges for Picture Mills creative team. This sequence is closer to a visual effect than a traditional title sequence, in terms of technical approach and execution, said Jon Block, Maya3D animator on the project.
Based on early tests and research, Picture Mill decided to create the sequence digitally, creating hair and fluid dynamics in Maya3D and After Effects, and compositing them with footage of the childs hand. We were able to maintain flexibility to react to editorial changes, offered Christina Hwang, Picture Mills producer on the sequence. I cant even imagine what it would have been like to have done this completely practical. In the end, we were adjusting single hairs to interact with certain title credits
Other Picture Mill credits include:* Designers Akemi Abe and Jon Block* Lead compositor Josh Novak* 3D animator Jon Block* 2D animators Akemi Abe, Nelson Yu and Josh Novak
Hollywood-based Picture Mill (www.picturemill.com) recent and upcoming projects include TEAM AMERICA, ELEKTRA, FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX and BEWITCHED.