Studio AKA Opens “Raised by Wolves” for Ridley Scott
Working in close collaboration with Ridley Scott, Studio AKA director Steve Small crafts a somber but somehow hopeful title sequence for “Raised by Wolves”, the new HBO Max series about androids raising human children on a distant planet.
Studio AKA director Steve Small: “Ridley had seen some of our previous work where we had experimented with painterly techniques and sent us some scripts with a view to designing some titles.
“When we saw some of his early cuts of live-action scenes, it was clear the show was going to be unlike anything we had seen before. So we wanted to find something a little different. But when your client has a body of work that has over decades regularly defined and redefined the genre, different is tough.
“Aaron Guzikowski’s dramatic scripts explore themes where enduring aspects of human culture are placed in constant collision with new technology. I thought it would be interesting to reflect this friction in the imagery and it put me in mind of those early photogravures which used unusual oil and gum bichromates.
“At the time, they were the cutting edge of technology. The idea of snatching an imprint of the real world onto a sensitized plate was such a leap of technical wizardry to the extent that it felt like alchemy. Yet the process was so hands-on and intensive, that seeing them today, you never quite know if they are paintings or photographs.
“I tried some designs that were a mixture of collage and painting and wore them down with brush strokes and layers of processed texture. Ridley liked them and said ‘Now we start telling a story.’
“He boarded early thoughts in the meeting and later we fed ideas back and forth while at Studio AKA we figured out how we were going to make these images move.
“Counter-intuitively, we kept the team lean, and the look tightly realized within the original stills. The designs in this case weren’t the pre-production art. They were the final look. And all of the glitches and brushstrokes stayed there.
“We used everything we could, Animate, After Effects, Houdini, Maya, hand-drawn animation, and an HB pencil. That said, every frame spent time on our screen being hand painted at several stages of its process.
“The results, though often labor-intensive, are still mostly paintings, so when reviewing and adding to the scenes, most of the changes could be done by one person with some spontaneity.
“A good example of this is the scene of the figure hanging in the air between silhouetted buildings. We had completed the scene to look just like the style frame. Then Ridley emailed saying. ‘Let’s be bold. How about adding a death ray.’
After a night studying lasers, I sat down the next morning and painted in the Necromancer’s death ray, frame by frame in a day.
“Collaborating with Ridley on these titles offered a rare glimpse into his creative process. He draws, storyboards, thinks like a painter, and has an unsettlingly good eye. Creating these sequences for Ridley Scott was an artistic thrill.”
Client: Scott Free Films, HBO Max
Producer: Teresa Kelly
Production: Studio AKA
Director: Steve Small
Producer: Nikki Kefford-White
Animation/Artworking: Marcus Armitage, Kristian Andrews, Martin Oliver
3D FX simulation: Kristian Fjellerup Olesen, Rob Chapman
3d Modeling: Raymond Slattery
Compositing: Marcus Armitage, Kristian Andrews, Will Eager
Editor: Nic Gill
Music: Mariam Wallentin, Ben Frost