Blur Studio‘s creative director Tim Miller designed the title sequence of David Fincher‘s last film based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy.

“Working with David, the creative journey is always a partnership and a collaboration and you KNOW that the destination will be worth the trip,” explained Miller. “From the beginning, David’s goal was to tell the entire story of the trilogy in 2 ½ minutes. The question was how to visualize that and how abstract we could be. Once our design direction was established, David drove the process with a desire to convey ‘a buried story, a fever dream covered in black primordial ooze, through the visuals.”

Blur broke the Trilogy down into quintessential moments that could be translated through iconic imagery from the books, i.e.: a pressed flower, an intricate tattoo, a wasp and elements bursting into flame. Those moments were distilled into vignettes that could be expressed visually. A total of 26 independent vignettes were approved by Fincher to build into the sequence. Each one is a mini-story built entirely in CG, told from a variety of camera angles. During the editorial Blur shuffled the deck, allowing the vignettes to play out in a frenetic, non-linear clash of concepts employing the hard-hitting, fast cutting style established by Fincher in the first trailer, also cut to “Immigrant Song” covered by Karen O and Trent Reznor. There were a total of 252 shots in the 2 ½ minute clip; each cut lasts about a mere 24 frames or fewer. Blur also created the video for “Immigrant Song” using elements from the opening title sequence that was released online on December 10th as a teaser for the film.

The sequence was built entirely in computer graphics to allow for ‘in the round’ storytelling, so that each event could be viewed from multiple camera angles offering the best compositions, vantage points and extreme close-ups. The final clip used 3D scans of the film’s leading actors along with elements, including the Dragon and Phoenix tattoos, designed and modeled for the film and title sequence by Blur.

The most technically challenging part of the project was adding computer generated fluid simulations to nearly every element in the spot. Black ooze came flooding, dripping, clumping, spurting, jetting and pouring in and around everything in frame. This black ‘dream ooze’ was the unifying element that established the look of the piece. The computer simulations required to build such realistic-looking liquids were very complex and took hours, and sometimes days to run. Blur tapped fluid FX specialists Spatial Harmonics and Fusion CIS to help bolster Blur’s internal team of 20 artists working on the job. The sequences were then carefully lit in CG with an artful eye to provide a very natural, real-word look as if the sequence has been filmed in live action.

Read Tim Miller’s interview and watch the making-of on

Creative Director
Tim Miller

CG Supervisor
Jerome Denjean

Editor & Layout
Franck Balson

Animation Supervisor
Derron Ross

FX Supervisor
Kirby Miller

Design & Type Animation
Jennifer Miller
Onur Senturk

Tobin Kirk

Executive Producer
Al Shier

Production Coordinator
Jean Ho

Jeff Fowler
Douglas Lassance
David Nibbelin
Derron Ross
Nick Whitmire

Character Modeling
Shaun Absher
Mathieu Aerni
Alessandro Baldasseroni
Chris Grim
Zbyn?k Kysela
Desiree Lunsford
Laurent Pierlot

Rigging Lead
Enoch Ihde

Steven Alley
Chris Boylan
Justin Callanan
Ben Durkin
Jennifer Hendrich
Brent Wiley

Kyle Gaulin
Warren Grubb
Jason Hendrich
Jeremiah “Izzy” Izzard
Oliver Parcasio
William “Rocky” Vanoost
Jon Vener
Brian Whitmire
Nick Whitmire

Cloth Simulation
Steve Guevara

Hair Sim
Danny Young

Prop Modeling
Zack Cork
Jinho Jang

Lighting & Compositing
Chris ‘Bedrock’ Bedrosian
Colin James
Tom Nemeth
David Stinnett
Onur Senturk
Daniel Trbovic
Dan Woje

Daniel Chamberlin
Ian Clemmer
Seung Jae Lee
Johanes Kurnia
John Kosnik
Ole Lemming
Matt Radford
Brandon Riza
Brandon Young

Additional FX Supplied by
Fusion CI Studios
Spatial Harmonics Group

Concept Design
Jason Felix
Norn Jordan
Sean McNally
Jared Purrington
Onur Senturk
Joshua Shaw
Tom Zhao
Motion Capture TDs
Anthony Romero
Brian McKee
Mocap Talent
Derron Ross
Sheila Atkinson

Programming and Systems Administration
Jeremy Donahue
Paul Huang
Matt Newell
Duane Powell

Peyton Kirk
Tess Masters

Scanning Services Provided by
The Nicholas VFX Group