Entertainment advertising agency The Ant Farm partnered with Activision Publishing and developers Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games to create the opening title sequence for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The Ant Farm integrated dazzling 2D/3D motion graphics and game capture to create a robust cinematic title sequence propelled by the dynamic graphic sound wave, which was also created by The Ant Farm. The final delivery presents a visual, narrative timeline that creatively recaps the epic backstory of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to seamlessly draw gamers into the present action of the record-setting video game's third installment.
"We knew that our opening cinematic would be one of the first things gamers would see before they began play of what was the most anticipated game in history," remarks Scott Carson, creative director, The Ant Farm. "Visually introducing this game was an exciting opportunity for [The Ant Farm]
and our ever-growing motion graphics department. Activision, along with Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games, are truly passionate about their work, so we strove to honor their commitment to quality and narrative by telling their story in a graphically beautiful form that would resonate with Modern Warfare 3 and its fans."
Presented on a color palette of Modern Warfare's "night-vision" green, the infamous Khaled Al-Asad triggers all of the action with a gunshot; the bullet's trajectory, visualized in the form of a sound wave, hums toward the audience. The origins of a battle-ridden world begin to unravel to the speed of sound, with each scene motivated and interconnected by a sound wave whirling in 3D space. The end-result is a stream-of-consciousness experience of the game's complex history, with the promise of war on the horizon.
As the creative force behind the well-received opening title sequence for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, The Ant Farm was tasked to evolve the aesthetic of the iconic "sound wave," which has become synonymous with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
"The challenge is you can't do the same thing twice," comments Lucas Christman, art director, The Ant Farm. "What we strove to do, rather, was to let the central design device evolve yet remain recognizable. Having already stylized the sound wave for Modern Warfare 2, we chose here to add a dimension of depth to the next iteration. The timeline of the narrative we were working with was linear, so breaking up the narrative plot points in 3D space allowed us to creatively emphasize key plots and relative subplots within the same frame and clarify their connectivity."
The Ant Farm created the 3D environment in Maya. Using proprietary game capture software, the artists culled data and visual assets from the game itself. The Maya environment and game assets were then imported into After Effects, where rotoscoping and compositing were performed. Additional elements were modeled in Cinema 4D.
"Working with our clients at Activision, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games was very collaborative," Jon Berkowitz, creative director-motion GFX, concludes. "Their passion really inspired our entire design team. The Modern Warfare 3 intro cinematic indeed represents the level of high-end creative being produced at The Ant Farm. This is more than just eye candy. We can establish the emotional context of the experience from the first frame."