Behind the Forward 2021 Main Titles by Found
For Forward Festival 2021, FOUND Studio created ‘Threshold’, a film exploring the relationship between physical and virtual worlds, for our Main Title Sequence. We’re going to take a look behind the scenes and find out how FOUND, led by Creative Director Clayton Welham, and created by the two superstar designers Olly Johnson and Ionut Lupu, brought it to life.
FOUND began conceptualising their film by looking at Forward Festival – what it stands for and what it’s investigating, by way of the virtualization and digitisation of our lives. Entirely conceived, designed and executed during a worldwide pandemic, the film works as a response to the human experience over the last year – how we’ve all adapted to living apart, whilst staying connected.
This line, the ‘Threshold’ between the real and the virtual, is a key part of the concept. To ground this idea, Clayton asked the team to explore thresholds and the different meanings of that – physical thresholds where we cross into a new digital space and the thresholds of frequencies, where mechanisms reach such a speed as to become imperceptible to a human eye.
The brief was in and the project rested with Olly and Ionut. A title sequence made by two designers, separated geographically, and connected only through the digital and virtual tools available to their home setups – how would that work? The team were excited to find out. Remote working presented challenges but that just meant that they had to keep on top of communication, constantly sharing ideas, WIPs and progress – but with a small team and daily zooms, FOUND kept their close collaborative ethos strong throughout.
Taking inspiration from analogue photography, the two designers began by testing the look and feel of long exposure techniques and light trails in 3D, looking into how the human eye sees and processes images. They also researched AR and VR looking into how this technology takes us across a threshold and into a new digital space, exploring how the frame rates trick us into believing. The team had the chance to explore new concepts and techniques in the creation of these titles, moving objects at super-high speeds, experimenting with high frame rates, and pushing the boundaries of virtual lighting.
The pair worked in Cinema 4D and Octane to handle the multitude of heavy lighting setups and camera choreography. They took advantage of the flexibility of both softwares to build fully customisable and controllable mechanisms and light rigs. The biggest challenge was recreating practical camera effects inside of C4D, especially the slow shutter effects. The initial approach to the setups was to build them in an adaptable way, but this proved to be a challenge, and the majority of the systems ended up being fully bespoke builds.
Typography is key to this film, heroing the speaker’s names front and centre. In exploring the type styling, FOUND drew inspiration from a number of sources, such as surreal architecture, sculptures that play with perspectives and different thresholds that reveal a subject or a new space through light or other means. They then began to explore typefaces in 3D, conceiving environments around them. Co-Type’s Coanda font had the right mix of digital and contemporary finesse as a face, along with perfect horizontal, vertical and 45 degree strokes. This allowed the designers to break it down into a modular system – bringing individual elements together, at pace, to recreate the whole. Pairing names with each scene came up quite organically. With the amount of R&D created for the film, some names serendipitously fell into place, whilst others took more consideration, such as the sharp flashes nodding to Martin Parr’s renowned photography.
After many months of work, the final title film was created – a film about frequencies and thresholds, reaching speeds where mechanisms become imperceptible and see us as an audience crossing boundaries into virtual and digital spaces. It explores the build-up of processes, starting slowly as we navigate the worlds of each speaker’s name, before interrogating them closer and celebrating the result. The satisfying crescendo of catching each speaker’s name by the film’s end, the game and engagement of finding the visible type at break-neck speed, is a joy to experience. This year’s Title Film is a result of an ever-expansive stream of R&D from the hands of young two motion design stars – finished with meticulous attention to detail, and brought together by a stunning bespoke soundtrack created by FOUND’s long term partners, Echoic Audio.