Trollback + Company completed the opening sequence for the PopTech Conference held in Iceland recently. This marks the fourth collaborative title design between PopTech and T+Co, which also involved additional branding materials.
Inspired by the power of the Icelandic nature, T+Co's interpretation of the event's theme, "Toward Resilience," plays with the juxtaposition of opposing forces, such as creation and destruction, light and darkness, and smoothness and sharpness. A frequency of lines flows and wraps around various forms giving them definition, from rolling hills with hints of green to blue-tinged lapping water and a disintegrating iceberg.
For Technical Director Justin Zurrow and Art Director Peter Alfano, the initial step was to determine what kind of story they wanted to tell visually with the lines. Following his methodology of using music to inspire motion, Executive Creative Director Jakob Trollback provided a temp music track by artist Squarepusher that helped set the mood and pacing of the animation. The final score was composed by Michael Montes of Sacred Noise.
"For me personally, Iceland is such a fascinating place," explained Zurrow. "It's a hostile, natural environment, but there's something beautiful and hopeful about the fact that it rose out of the ocean from nothing. To capture the interplay of opposing forces, for example, we showed the creation of Iceland's unique land formations, but also its destruction with the breaking of the iceberg. We're not trying to pass judgment, but just show it as an event that happens."
"We explored how these lines define form, and developed a shader in Maya that maps luminance to 3D objects and creates corresponding lines in reaction to light," added Alfano. "The challenge was finding a balance between being too reductive and abstract and being too literal with the frequency of lines."
Initially, the animation was done in black and white, but ultimately, color was added to connect it to the beautiful landscape. The moire issue was the biggest concern. "Using Mental Ray really fixed these problems," said Alfano. "The program now uses unified sampling, which allows designers to sample points in a 3D environment opposed to a grid format. This software made everything look and work better."
"This was a great project for us as a studio because we could experiment with tools and techniques that aren't possible on commercial timelines," concluded Zurrow. "The client sent us some great references, such as landscape photography, but gave us a lot of latitude to design a piece that captures the relevant voice of the conference."