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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

yU+co. Re-Teams with Director Zack Snyder For Watchmen


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+ One of the most highly anticipated films of the year is director Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the popular graphic novel Watchmen. Setting the tone for the film is a multi-layered, 6-minute long title sequence conceived by Snyder that features compelling 3D typography designed by yU+co., the Hollywood-based design/animation studio that previously collaborated with Snyder on the title sequence for his box-office smash hit, 300. Set to the Bob Dylan classic “The Times They Are A-Changin,’” the title sequence strings together key events from the alternate history of the comic book series, starting from the 1940’s up to the 1980’s, the time period the story is set in. Through a series of slow-motion vignettes, we see how a collection of superheroes have influenced and altered major events such as World War II, the JFK assignation, the Cold War and the moon landing. Incorporated into each scene is the yU+co. title design, bathed in bright yellow, which plays off of the blood splattered happy-face icon that is a key visual component to both the graphic novel and the film.
“Zack wanted to setup a foreboding tone and introduce the main characters in the title sequence,” says Garson Yu, Creative Director of yU+co. “Most studios want to get the audience into the film quickly and either have a short title sequence or put it at the end of the film rather than the beginning.” Yu continues, “It is rare today to see a title treatment that is six-minutes long and slow-paced. But Watchmen is grounded in complex philosophical ideas. Zack was able to foreshadow the decline of the superhero characters along with the rise of social unrest using the backdrop of the story’s alternate history, but he needed six minutes to do so.”
The challenge for yU+co. was integrating titles into an already edited six-minute sequence that was built without the placement of titles in mind. In order to make the titles feel like an organic part of the sequence, Yu and his creative team wove meticulous detail into the type design. Rather then simply lay 2D type onto the foreground of the live action, it is incorporated in 3D into each scene. “I wanted our titles to be seen as part of the film and not detached and separate,” says Yu. “We took all the camera data such as lens, distance, focus, aperture, etc., and translated it into the CGI.” As a result, the titles track in perfect sync with Snyder’s camera moves and precisely match the lighting, shadows and perspective in the scenes. That extreme attention to detail created a sequence that is both stunning and subtle. For example, in a shot of the moon landing, the titles are perfectly reflected backwards in the helmet of the astronaut; or in a scene in which two dead bodies are tied to a fire hydrant, we see rustling leaves behind the title alter the shadow of the title. In the same scene when a policeman’s flashlight shines on the title, its light washes out the yellow color slightly and alters the shadow. For more information on yU+co, please visit www.yuco.com

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