NFTS students were visited by a group of leading industry figures behind iconic title sequences, promos and idents including 007, Dr. Who, Sherlock, Victoria, and Channel 4 as part of an inspiring and invaluable design and motion-graphics masterclass. Daniel Kleinman (Designer and Director of 7 James Bond title sequences from Goldeneye to Skyfall), Peter Anderson (Creative Director of Peter Anderson UK motion design and titles studio, including Sherlock, Dr. Who, Tin Star) and Shananne Lane (Executive Producer for 4Creative) joined NFTS Motion Graphics and Titles for Film & TV tutor Mark Chaudoir in a session that offered valuable insights into the lives and working practices of some of today’s leading design and motion-graphics creatives.
Daniel Kleinman, who is recognised as one of advertising’s most established directors, talked of his first encounter as Titles Designer for the James Bond franchise blockbuster Goldeneye in 1995; taking over from Maurice Binder, stating: “The titles acted as a way into the film. I wanted to show time passing, so by the post-title sequence, time had moved on.”
Daniel pioneered the use of special effects in post-production in more than 100 videos in the 80s winning numerous awards for work with artists such as ZZ Top, Fleetwood Mac, Prince, and Madonna, telling students of his experience working as a director for the Licence to Kill music video which, with its sensual dancers, bold silhouettes and tuxedo-clad Gladys Knight, acted as a homage to Maurice Binder. With these talents, Kleinman seemed a logical successor to Binder.
Talking of his design inspirations in creating the titles for Goldeneye, Daniel showed students sketches of hammers, statues, gun barrels, adding: “I was interested in showing the fall of communism and Russia’s desire to have Western Values through these girls in lingerie smashing the sickle and hammer statues to pieces.” Daniel was asked about his concept for the Goldeneye titles, which famously featured an explosive look down a gun barrel as a reinvention of the iconic staple, saying: “I wanted to take the language that Maurice Binder had invented and try to make it my own. There are some elements of the Bond titles you can’t escape – you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water – there has to be guns, girls, seduction. But I wanted to move this language along rather than being overtly titillating for the sake of it. I wanted to hint and add subtlety, for example, the woman with two heads nods to ‘the god with two faces’ in Bond’s nemesis”.
Kleinman went on to design titles for a succession of Bond blockbusters, including Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale, and Skyfall.
Daniel presented students with an insight into his conceptual ideas in designing the titles for Skyfall, which, for the first time in Bond-title history, digs into 007’s psyche; set in an ethereal, cathartic world of the spy’s inner mind, as he sinks to the bottom of the riverbed. Daniel showed sketches of coffins, shadowy graveyards, guns falling through water, adding that these images referenced a sense of mortality and eeriness, whilst several test design sequences of a visceral, beating heart aided Kleinman’s concept which was finally constructed as fragile, floating speckles of blood morphing into a bloodied skull. Daniel added: “I used CGI to create the blood here, testing textures, spacing, pace, angles. I didn’t need the heart to be anatomically correct but to give the feeling of weight and space.” Daniel presented other design sketches, including the use of mirrors, kaleidoscopes and a ‘house of mirrors, which echoed and altered reality, in a way which plays with perception” as well as movie set designs illustrating grey, glossy, high tech chambers and vibrant, mystical Chinese dragons of which make up the slick and seductive title sequence.
Daniel commented: “One forgets that the whole point of titles is to credit the names – but the credits are delivered to me after I’ve finished the whole sequence so I have to stay flexible right up to the last minute.”
Peter Anderson, Creative Director of the Peter Anderson Studio has worked designing motion graphics and titles for programmes including Dr Foster, Victoria, Sherlock, The Missing, as well as in-show graphics, sub program titles and the refreshing of graphics for Dr Who on its return to screens with Matt Smith taking the lead role.
Anderson, who studied graphics at St Martin's and has an MA in fine art, first made his name creating large-scale typographical installations, and made a move into television by working as a title designer for In Excess: The Death of Michael Hutchence, a documentary about the INXS frontman. The Peter Anderson Studio was commissioned by BBC Wales to provide titles and in-show graphics for BBC’s contemporary version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective, Sherlock. The title sequence aims to highlight Sherlock's unique way of seeing the world, giving the viewer ’30 seconds in the head of this slightly deranged, detailed-obsessed detective’.
When asked about his ‘starting point’, Peter stated: “I wanted to invent a new reason for why a title sequence should exist, and what its job is. Somehow I wanted to explore technology but still keep it simple and bring the audience into the psyche of our detective.”
The title sequence for Sherlock draws you in with layers of scientific details, fast paced cityscapes of London, erratic scribblings and flashes of danger – culminating in a high-tech type face, created specifically for the show, as an ‘ether of language’ coded in a ‘fresh, modern and integrated way’. In recreating the Sherlock logo, Anderson designed a new typeface which is actually a hidden code based on an old fashioned type-writer to produce a ‘celebration of Conan Doyle within a contemporary language’. Anderson adds: “Nobody was really doing that kind of thing. We wanted everything to be chosen for a reason. Even the font we used throughout the show was planned – it’s the typeface used on the London Underground!”
Anderson uses in-show graphics as a storytelling device; digital graphics replacing Sherlock’s trusty magnifying glass, allowing words to intertwine, pop out and playfully weave across the screen and become integrated with the mise-en-scene. Students asked Peter about this new style, which he answered: “We were interjecting narrative and illustrating a thought process through graphics” and showed examples of overlaid graphics from GPS iconography, real-time thoughts, diagrammatical discoveries and google alerts, texts and calls pinging on screen to represent Sherlock’s thoughts.
Drawing on his processes, Peter advised students that “failures are really important in the creative world” and “you should always accept challenges, which can be a daily terror, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
Students were also joined by Shananne Lane, Executive Producer atChannel 4’s multi award winning Agency and Production Company, 4Creative which is responsible for all of Channel 4’s advertising from traditional commercials, brand campaigns, print and digital to full Channel launches and rebrands. Shananne openly discussed the distinctive Channel 4 branding; a staple of British TV since 1982 which was created to ‘give a voice to minorities’ in a time ‘of great civil arrest’, with its subversive content, unashamedly rebellious cheekiness and heart-felt realness making up a vital part of the Channel 4 DNA, which is publicly-owned and commercially-funded.
4Creative is a 40 plus people team who put their touches on design from idents to posters to stings to logos, producing brilliantly on-brand content across every single Channel 4 sub-brand. Shananne explained: “Our branding at Channel 4 has always been about those blocks breaking apart and coming back together, but in 2015, we refreshed and rebranded this.”
Shananne presented fantastic examples of the Channel 4 rebranding to students, showing the numerous ways in which the 9 blocks of the logo are playfully and entertainingly reconstructed, adding: “the blocks constantly reform, move, either as 9 blocks or as 100, conveying all corners of the remit and representing uniqueness and personality”.
In 2015 the team, headed up by Alice Tonge set about working with DBLG and Steve Qua to create new branding, including a restructuring of design and forming a supergroup along with director Jonathan Glazer and Neville Brody, who created original idents and two new typefaces, Horseferry and Chadwick, which was to be used on the channel’s refreshed on-screen graphics and off-air marketing. The typefaces, with their new rounded modern and angular geometric shapes, pointed terminals and robust form, were designed to reflect on Channel 4’s sharp, innovative and edgy style as a British institution. Jonathan Glazer created and directed the contemporary idents which used the concept of bringing the logo blocks into the real world and into abstract, worldly locations; beautifully and captivatingly shot to represent the impact of the blocks within a diverse UK.
Shananne supported this by saying: “Channel 4 are a company that are always evolving and constantly challenging new ideas – There’s always something new being thrown at us which is exciting!”
Applications for the NFTS Motion Graphics and Titles Diploma course are open until 7th July, to start in January 2020 - visit our website: http://www.nfts.co.uk/graphics
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