Director Morgan Matthews, of Minnow Films, asked Painting Practice to collaborate with him on the opening titles of his latest documentary, Shooting Bigfoot. After  having some initial creative chats with Morgan, he very kindly let us take the design lead and come up with an idea that was sympathetic to the tone of his film. This is Painting Practice’s first foray into directing and producing a finished piece of animation and we are very pleased with the finished result. We hope you like it too!

Soul Bass to the rescue

Almost instinctively, after watching the film, we felt that the titles needed to look simple and very graphic so we began by  looking at the work of Designer / Filmmaker Saul Bass. Taking reference from Bass’s great work we also chose to employ the use of simple shapes and strong contrasts as our main direction. This style has been employed succesfully for other great titles sequences such as ‘Catch Me If You Can’ and the hugely popular TV show, ‘Mad Men’. With our version we wanted to offer this same graphic style, but also add our own twist.

Before blocking out the sequences in 3D we explored some simple style frames and then developed the main characters along with with the principal forest elements. Once Morgan was happy with the overall approach and the ‘look’ of the characters we blocked out all the scenes in 3D using mixture of 2d characters and 2/3D trees and vegetation. We enhanced the look by making this two dimensional world feel as though it was three dimensional by adding volume to our forest environment.

Here are some initial style frames and final character/forest lineups which we produced before we moving into production.

Each character in the film has his own silhouette, all which we follow around the forest as they attempt to track down Bigfoot. Volumetric lighting and good use of 2.5 D compositing helped to create a world that was flat but had plenty of depth. Here is a 3d test using our principal light source as the hunters torches, we wanted to create a look the we could afford to achieve  but also didn’t distract from the principal goal of revealing each credit in charming and inventive way.

Animation plays an important role in the sequence, at times we are transported from one place to another either as we follow the torchlight or as in this case the sparks from the fire.

Typography

The typography had to be  sympathetic to the illustration but also most instances be part of the environment as in these examples where the sparks and the torchlight deliver the credits.

Thank you Minnow films for giving us the opportunity and  creative freedom to deliver our first animated film title sequence.