Setting a Ghostly Theme

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Thu, 07/07/2016 - 11:08 -- Nick Dager

LipSync Post created the title sequence for BBC One's The Living and the Dead.LipSync Post has created the disturbing title sequence for BBC One’s chilling new six-part drama series, The Living and the Dead, which hit screens last month. LipSync’s creative director Howard Watkins noted the initial concept for the titles was to incorporate a sketetal and ghostly theme to create the feel of early Victorian photography.

“We focused on cyanotypes or photograms – non-camera photographs that were created by placing the subject matter, usually dried plants and organisms, directly on to the cyanotype paper and exposing to light, resulting in intricate stencils of the subject,” explained Watkins.

At the same time Alice Troughton, the series director for the first three episodes, suggested the work of experimental film maker, Stan Brakhage, whose 1963 film Mothlight used similar techniques.

“This somewhat forgotten but influential film had an honesty, pace and character that embodied much of what the sequence needed,” said Watkins. “Marilyn Brakhage, Stan’s widow, very kindly allowed us to use the film as she felt our treatment was suitably sensitive to his work.”

Julia Hall was lead designer and animator on the project, and also designed the typography.

The LipSync team used After Effects for much of the sequence, cutting together sequences which evoked various senses. Microscopic seed heads appear like a flock of crows in a white sky; dandelion heads become huge spoke wheels; blades of grass become flickering flames; moth-wings become arterial diagrams; and twigs become gnarled bones.

From an original story by Ashley Pharoah (Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes) and produced by Eliza Mellor (Poldark, Death Comes To Pemberley), the series follows a young Victorian couple whose plans to start a new life together become unsettled after they inherit a farm in an isolated corner of England.