• Bond is back! Die Another Day opens in the UK on 20th November and the 22nd in US. The latest James Bond extravaganza is produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli and directed by Lee Tamahori. In addition to contributing digital special effects and providing some stunning digital grading effects for the opening section of the film, Framestore CFC provided some astonishing visuals for Die Another Day's title sequence with title song is written and performed by Madonna. The titles for Die Another Day bring a new twist of their own to the genre with the sequence designed and directed by Daniel Kleinman, and visual effects supervised by Framestore CFC’s William Bartlett.

    The titles follow a tense and action-filled pre-title sequence, in which James Bond infiltrates an enemy camp, is captured, escapes and chases his captors to their deaths, and is finally recaptured. At this point Die ANother Day takes the unprecedented step of continuing the story during the titles. It does this by showing us glimpses of Bond undergoing gruelling torture at the hands of his captors. This is seen in the background or otherwise filtered through the sensibility of the title sequence. On one level the titles can be seen as a kind of dream sequence undergone by Bond as he endures his torture. We see the prisoner Bond’s face as it is thrust into an icy bath of water. Cue the music and titles.

    The title sequence weaves together a number of features that will be familiar to connoisseurs of the Bond movies, including sinuous dancing girls, fire, ice and electrical motifs. This elemental interplay takes off from some of the standard tools in the torturer’s kit. We see a red-hot poker transformed into a fiery finger, for example. James Bond’s chief tormentor, the Scorpion Girl, uses the poisonous arachnids as tools of her trade, and they appear in the titles as CG creatures, created by Jake Mengers, Simon Stoney and Don Mahmood.

    Elements of Surprise
    William Bartlett, who has worked with Kleinman on a number of previous projects, including earlier Bond titles and this year’s X-Box campaign had his work cut out realising Kleinman’s vision. The ‘firewoman’ is a striking example of this. The model, Jackie, was shot at Pinewood under an ultra-violet light. Bartlett speaks admiringly of her professionalism and endurance during this shoot – 9 hours wearing nothing but ultra-violet make-up, and no sitting down! The make-up provided a shadow-free, even skin texture. The texture was then treated with a number of sparks, with timing offsets that, when combined back together, give the impression of movement on the skin’s surface. This was then colourised, and glows were added to give the final result.

    Similar pains were taken over the ‘ice woman’ effect. The model was shot using two different cameras, and also scanned. The 3D team of Andrew Daffy and Andrew Chapman could then match and rotoscope her. The ice skin texture is a tricky one, as it can look jelly-like if not handled carefully. Appropriate fissures and cracks that ‘sell’ the idea of a living ice sculpture were added, partly in 3D and partly in Inferno during the final composites. These were done by Avtar Bains and Murray Butler, who also composited the scorpion shots.

    Throughout the title sequence we see images of Bond’s torture distorted through the fire and ice, solarised or refracted through diamond-like facets. Finally, as the sequence and song draw to a close, and director Lee Tamahori’s name appears, we get a last shot of the Scorpion Girl peering through the slit of Bond’s cell door. We return to the ‘real’ world of the film, some sixteen months has passed, and a bearded, haggard 007 is about to return to the fray…

    The titles for Die Anohter Day is a daring and up-to-the-minute reworking of the Bond traditions. In addition, they demonstrate beautifully the enormous range of visual effects on offer at Framestore CFC.

    Links
    Framestore CFC website

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