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Friday, July 24, 2009

Behind True Blood's Title Sequence

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I think we're all familiar with the opening title sequence for True Blood, right? It was created by a company called Digital Kitchen which also produced the main title sequence for Six Feet Under. Below the cut are various images of the creative process, a making of video (it will automatically play), and other interesting facts about the project, production, and inspiration.







MAKING OF VIDEO










If for some reason this video won't play or you're having difficulties, you can view it at Digital Kitchen's website.



True Blood’s title sequence was created by Digital Kitchen, a production studio that was also responsible for creating the title sequence of Six Feet Under. The sequence, which is primarily composed of portrayals of the show’s deep South setting, is played to “Bad Things” by Jace Everett.

Digital Kitchen wished to explore themes of redemption and forgiveness in the opening title sequence.

Conceptually, Digital Kitchen elected to construct the sequence around the idea of “the whore in the house of prayer” by intermingling contradictory images of sex, violence and religion and displaying them from the point of view of “a supernatural, predatory creature observing human beings from the shadows …” Digital Kitchen also wished to explore ideas of redemption and forgiveness, and thus arranged for the sequence to progress from morning to night and to culminate in a baptism.

In editing the opening, Digital Kitchen wanted to express how “religious fanaticism” and “sexual energy” could corrupt humans and make them animalistic. Accordingly, several frames of some shots were cut to give movements a jittery feel, while other shots were simply played back very slowly. Individual frames were also splattered with drops of blood. The sequence’s transitions were constructed differently, though; they were made with a Polaroid transfer technique. The last frame of one shot and the first frame of another were taken as a single Polaroid photo, which was then divided between emulsion and backing. The emulsion was then filmed being further separated by chemicals and those shots of this separation were placed back into the final edit.

The final edit contains over 65 shots comprised of original documentary, studio, tabletop photography and found footage. 6 separate shoots took place in Louisiana, Seattle, Chicago on 7 different still, film, and video cameras. 3 new babies were born at DK between award and delivery. No divorces. 1 Bolex passed peacefully in the night.



We have a unique relationship with Alan Ball. Our work with him on Six Feet Under not only altered the trajectory of our company but also that of the title design business. The opportunity to work together on a whole new series was an exciting proposition. Although Mr. Ball is addressing many of the same issues in True Blood as he did Six Feet Under: death, mortality, identity with a healthy dose of humor, True Blood is a much more wild, unrestrained ride. Our assignment was to distill the humor, sex, violence and sweaty, sultry vibe of Louisiana- and oh yeah, don't show vampires.




Actually making the titles for True Blood had mostly to do with setting aside our own prejudices of the subject matter as well as so-called "professional" production practices. We knew from the start that the best way-the only way- to create a powerful introduction to True Blood was to insert ourselves into the middle of Louisiana and find out what happens-unmannered and unvarnished.



Most of the outdoor footage was shot in Louisiana. The bar scenes, titles, and writhing bodies were shot in Seattle. The church scenes were shot in Chicago. We even created our own font family based on roadsign hand-painted signage.




Many of us shot scenes on a multitude of formats anywhere we went. While one of us might talk to a subject, another one or two of us would operate a camera while someone else then wondered off into the woods to shoot creepy things.




As many as a dozen DKer's touched this project at one time or another. There are many influences and sources that colored our final project. We also give a big thanks to the wonderful film In Search of the Wrong-Eyed Jesus. It gave us the courage to dig deeper into the swamps and back alleys where the real color can be found.




Our approach embraced the madcap and deliberate, the lo-fi with the state of the art, and a host of other dualities. But what made this project sing and connect is the transparency of our love for getting our hands dirty, hitting the ground running and making a little film.





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