Media and technology company Vocativ needed a motion graphics title sequence for their documentary series Dark Net. Available for streaming on Showtime, Dark Net explores “a more ominous and disturbing perspective of a digitally connected world where our every action is collected and stored”. The title sequence needed to match the overall tone of the series, which covered topics such as cyber-kidnapping, biohacking, and digital warfare. Pixeldust designed a live action title sequence enhanced with animated digital effects that visually represented the terrifying power of technology and its ability to consume users.

Creative Director: Ricardo Andrade
Editor: Rico Andrade
Animator: Jason Starbird-Tierney, Jordan Chedalavada

CLIENT BRIEF

Vocativ wanted to warn viewers of a technological dystopia, so Dark Net needed a unique and memorable concept that would grab the audience’s attention. That alone was enough motivation for Pixeldust to dive in and conceptualize an unforgettable opening sequence.

MOTION DESIGN SOLUTION

Pixeldust combined elements of live-action film with animated graphics to create a man trapped in a a literal technological web. It shows viewers how technology can be a trap, a dark face behind the convenience of endless possibilities.

Motion graphics for title design

CONCEPT

Pixeldust decided to explore the theme of inescapable technology.  People freely give up their personal information, and can become addicted to social media, video games, online shopping, and much more. Each website visited, email sent, and info submitted contributes to a permanent digital footprint. No matter how private it may be, this information can be used against a user and one day come back to haunt them. 

While the client ultimately went with this “trapped” concept, other concept explored included “projections” of the digital world, and “puppets” of technology.

Concept art for Motion Design Pitch
Concept art for motion graphics pitch
Concept art for animation show opening sequence pitch

DESIGN

The web slowly grew out of a server and eventually enveloped a human host, trapping him completely. The web needed to have a cyber feel to it while also retaining the “spider web” appearance that would be recognizable to viewers.

Storyboard Motion Design

PRODUCTION

The live-action production was done in a studio, using dim lighting to set the mood. Extreme close-up shots of the protagonist’s eye and the forearm were used to highlight the spider web slowly creeping up. As the web engulfs him, the shots become wider until the protagonist is fully overtaken by the “trap”.

Video production studio

POST-PRODUCTION

Once the live action shoot was completed, it was time to add the animation. The Pixeldust team utilized Plexus which helped to create the dots, lines, and facets that served as the base for the tangled web. Extensive motion tracking was done by hand to help the animation team have precise control over the placement and movement of the dots.

As the animation was refined, the web became a creeping, crawling, living object that tangled in the knuckles and climbed over the body.  The artists needed to composite the graphics just right, hitting the right mix of depth of field and color. This was a crucial step that ensured the footage and animation could believably exist in the same world on screen.

Show title without animation or motion graphicsShow title with animation and motion graphics
Actor before 3D animation and motion graphics
Cyber web
Dark Net engulfing user
Animation of cyber web in an arm
animation of cyber web taking over the neck

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