Working on Assassin’s Creed was an immensely rewarding creative experience for me. Being such a big fan of Director Justin Kurzel’s work, it was amazing to be able to immediately establish a great working relationship together. Our mutual trust and open dialogue with one another made this one of my personal favorite feature film projects to date.
There were many different design items from the film that needed special attention. The images below reflect a portion of the various design phases as the film concepts were being developed.
I knew from the start of this project that I wanted to try something a little different with my creative approach. Having Justin’s trust and backing, I explored a few ideas of trying to create a higher level of graphics that would live in film; these ideas would be more of an emotional rather than direct and deliberate line of focus. Instead of having a red blinking screen calling out an action, we focused on using various angles and pixel formations to build out from. Reaching out to my good friend's and close collaborator's The Joelson's, we managed to capture over 5tbs of footage that would later be put directly into the final cut of the film. It was extremely rewarding to see how well everything turned out in the final piece.
One of my personal favorite elements from the film is the Animus, which is machine that allows its user(s) to read and analyze a subject’s genetic memory. These memories can then be projected out onto an external screen where it can be viewed and interacted with in three dimensional space. I instantly fell in love with this particular concept and dug right into the design process. I personally wanted to pull everything back and keep it to the core of design fundamentals with a limited color pallet, strong grid line, basic and legible typeface. Justin wanted the machine to feel old and dated, but designed and created by scientists and engineers from years ago. It needed to be chaotic and beautiful in a natural way. Random arrays of running numbers, lines of code, bits of feed, and digital artifacts were all considered. I always like to create my own personal fiction when I design anything in film. This was a wonderful practice in expanding my own personal narrative into the film space.
I first started with breaking down the various beats of each asset needed, which ranged all the way from how the machines boot up to full brain scans of Cal. I enjoyed exploring how the data around the mind would fill in and spill over into various layers and stages. Although the basic principles were needed, we didn’t want to do a typical MRI scan image.
Once the designs were approved by Justin, my images were passed along to animator and simulation artist, Ryan Cashman. It had been a few years since we last worked on a film together, so it was really great to work closely with Ryan again. We understand one another well and communication was effortless as the designs and direction came alive through Ryan’s amazing abilities. Utilizing Houdini’s toolsets and AfterEffect’s ability to tie everything together, the project really took off to produce some astounding results.
Outside of the Animus designs, there were a few other things that needed our involvement on the project. These items included a spectrum from the Animus arm boot up and control module, to the Artifact analysis screens. Each concept was created in the basic design grid and frame work constructed for the Animus, so that continuity was clear across them all.
Justin liked the idea of branding and introducing his audience into the world of Assassin’s Creed through the look and feel we developed for the Animus. Ryan and I jumped at the opportunity to design a title sequence, but unfortunately, the concept didn’t make it to the final cut of the film. Regardless, we had an amazing time building the frames and title design.
I would like to thank everyone who was along for this ride and for allowing us to do what we love. Special thanks to Justin Kurzel, Alex Taylor, Levi Peterffy, Virginie Bourdin and Katie Reynolds. Cheers to many more!