Special Ops: Lioness opening titles

Responses by Filipe Carvalho, creative director, Untold Studios.

Background: Filmmaker Taylor Sheridan’s new TV show Special Ops: Lioness needed a main title sequence that set the tone for what the show is about: the stories of three women that go through the fire of war, their relationship and their fight against all odds.

Design thinking: We knew the main title should reflect the tone of the show, to feel the dust in the air and the hot sun on your face, and really capture those details through atmospheric imagery. Working with the wonderful photography shot on location by war photographer Lynsey Addario, it became a matter of elevating those shots to their best cinematic potential and bringing them to life using CG, compositing, projection techniques and animation to work up our desired look and feel for the sequence.

Challenges: Sheridan likes to place his actors front and center in title sequences for his shows, and that’s always an interesting challenge as there isn’t as much room for visual metaphors or abstract concepts. So, it becomes more about how you present actors’ faces and coming up with an atmosphere that supports that and makes them shine.

Favorite details: I’m proud of how we were able to make 2-D images come alive with some clever compositing and CG work done by the amazing Charlie Proctor. I also particularly like how the sequence has this feeling of foreboding, like we’re being led toward something unknown but inescapable.

Visual influences: Lynsey Addario’s photography, for sure. Also, other war photographers like James Nachtwey. The films Jarhead and Black Hawk Down, and, in particular, a very good HBO show called Generation Kill.

Alternate paths: I would have pushed more into the projection technique, which makes the actors blend into the environment, and those two things together become something new. We had initially gone further into the projection overlay motif, which was working really well. However, we wanted to make sure our hero actors were recognizable and visible, so we had a fine balance to work through with many of our shots.


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