Looking to visually communicate the mythology of "The Green Lantern" in a compelling way, studio Warner Bros. and director Martin Campbell turned to multi-disciplined creative design/visual effects studio yU+co, led by Creative Director Garson Yu, to design a :90 stereoscopic 3D main title sequence that not only grabbed the audience's attention, but also brought them up to speed on the superhero's history and set up the film's first scene. yU+co also created the film's stereoscopic 3D main-on-end sequence and credit crawl.
"The opening sequence was important to set up the backstory: there's a whole mythology from the Green Lantern comic books that most people don't know going into the movie," Yu said. "So the sequence has to fill you in on that legend before the movie starts. Aside from getting the information across, we wanted to establish a feeling for the world -- a big, epic journey through space that says: 'this is a big superhero movie.'"
Rendered in stereoscopic 3D and perfectly wed to the resonant voiceover from actor Geoffrey Rush, the main title sequence opens with a shot of a green orb known as the "emerald energy of will power" hovering in space. As the camera slowly pulls into the orb, we discover the planet Oa at its center, inhabited by the Guardians who oversee the universe and its 3,600 sectors -- each with its own protective Green Lantern. As the giant animated emerald ring that gives each Green Lantern its superpower rushes toward the camera, it splinters into numerous streaks of green light that recall the look of fireflies, only moving in a precise military formation.
The lights then form a green-hued navigational grid that visually conveys the idea that there are many Green Lanterns all around the universe working together as intergalactic peacekeepers. Following a heroic shot of the Green Lantern logo, yU+co introduces us to The Green Lantern's nemesis, an entity of fear known as the Parallax -- seen as a fiery yellow ball of energy and light with an ominous-looking skull at its core. The final shot of the sequence depicts the face of Abin Sur, the only Green Lantern to ever defeat Parallax, encased in a purple mist and wearing an emerald ring on his outstretched hand.
"The energy of willpower is the key to the Green Lantern," Yu added. "It's the source of his power. We took our cue from the visual effects in the movie, but created our own look for the opening -- something that visualizes energy because the battle between the green energy of will, and the yellow energy of fear is key to film's plot. For the face of Abin Sur we wanted to set up this character so that the audience recognize him when they see him later. The design challenge was to stylize him as part of the nebula but still see him as Abin Sur. We overcome this challenge by projecting his purple face onto a 3D cloud like structure and composited it as part of the galaxy."
A Film Classic Provides Inspiration
Where the main title sequence was an exercise in digital creativity, for the main-on-end-sequence yU+co decided to incorporate an organic technique that was used to great effect in the sci-fi classic "2001: A Space Odyssey."
To create the unusual patterns of light and color that serve as the back drop for the key credits -- rendered in striking green type before disappearing into vapor trails -- yU+co used the high-res RED camera to shoot a variety of colored paints and lacquers as they're poured into water and quickly spreads out. Those images, when blown up in size and composited into the 3D background, created the unusual effect and instantly resembled nebulas in our galaxy. The sequence was made even more powerful when perfectly edited to the guitar-infused techno soundtrack.
"It is important to think of 3D in the design stage, so you actually create a truly stereoscopic sequence," Yu noted. "For the opening, we tried to maximize the 3D effect by constantly moving past and through objects, nebulas and energy fields. All of the design events and elements are staged in stereo so they are all in truly logical 3D space. Without logic behind it the design won't make sense."