For the opening to the 2019 TV adaptation of Philip Pullman’s lauded His Dark Materials trilogy, studio Elastic welds together a soaring sequence of dust and doorways, mechanisms and mystery.
After the first 20 seconds, the intro’s movement becomes one long zoom out. A young woman stands alone, a knife behind her back and her animal companion by her side, as staircases and hallways swallow her up, Escher-style, eventually giving way to mountains and forests. Flying machines zoom across skies unknown. Cities stack one on top of the other. These worlds in parallel are arranged horizontally, strata of universes appearing like pages in a book or strings on an instrument, waiting to be plucked. When the title appears in the last frame, it is sliced in two, a fissure down its middle, foreshadowing the rift at the heart of this sweeping story.
Behind these epic titles are creative director Clarissa Donlevy and a robust team of designers, animators and compositors from LA-based Elastic and Cardiff-based Painting Practice. The score, awash with hope and thumping with adventure, was created by Grammy Award-winning composer Lorne Balfe.
The sequence won the 2020 BAFTA Award for Best Titles and Graphic Identity.
Design Studio: Elastic
Creative Director: Clarissa Donlevy
Lead Designer: Carlo Sa
Lead Animator/Compositor: Yongsub Song
Designers: Wes Yang, Kaya Thomas, Henry DeLeon, Felix Soletic, Min Shi
Designer/Animators: Takayuki Sato, Mert Kizilay, Bryan Coleman
Animators/Compositors: Christian Brown, Blaise Hossain, Aziz Dosmetov, Gabriel Perez, Tizu Tarumyan
Dynamics: Miguel Salek
Modelers: Greg Gutkin
Matte Painter: Nick Hiatt
CG Supervisors: Andy Wilkoff, Kirk Shintani
Storyboards: Vince Wei
Production Coordinator: Mitchell Fraser
Producers: Jacklyn Ramirez, Michael Ross
Executive Producer: Luke Colson
Head of Production: Kate Berry
Managing Director: Jennifer Sofio Hall
Original Score composed by: Lorne Balfe
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