Director David Fincher tapped animation design studio Blur (Venice, California) to create the opening title sequence for his highly-anticipated film based on the first story of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy. With the comment, “All I’m asking you to do is reinvent any expectations of what a title sequence could be,” Blur and Fincher began culling key moments from the series that would lend themselves to abstract imagery and visual metaphors. Their goal was to tell a story, in a two-and-a-half minute open, that would foreshadow the entire trilogy.
A total of 26 independent vignettes were approved by Fincher to build into the sequence (including a pressed flower, an intricate tattoo, a wasp and elements bursting into flame). Expressed visually, each one is a mini-story built entirely of CG and told from a variety of camera angles. The vignettes play out in a frenetic, non-linear clash of concepts employing the hard-hitting, fast-cutting style established by Fincher in the first trailer (which was also cut to “Immigrant Song” covered by Karen O and Trent Reznor). A total of 252 shots are included in the two-and-a-half minute clip and each cut lasts fewer than 24 frames. The sequence was built entirely in computer graphics so that each event could be viewed from multiple camera angles offering the best compositions, vantage points and extreme close-ups. The final clip used 3-D scans of the film’s leading actors along with elements designed and modeled for the film.
The most technically challenging part of the project was adding computer-generated fluid simulations to nearly every element in the spot. Black dream ooze was the unifying element that established the look of the piece and it floods, drips, clumps, spurts and pours in and around everything. The computer simulations required to build such realistic-looking liquids were complex and took hours, and sometimes days, to run; the sequences were then carefully lit in CG to look as if they had been filmed in live action. (via Creative Review)