Creator of TV Show’s Title Sequence Hopes You Feel Uncomfortable

by | 28 July 2022 | Animation, Conferences, Design, Graphics, Visual Effects

Copyright: @extraweg / Severance Apple TV+

The main title sequence for the dystopian thriller “Severance” on Apple TV+ is a triumph of 3D motion design and animation. The twisty, thought-provoking visual work illustrates the struggle of the show’s main character, who’s forced to navigate a surgical divide between his professional and personal lives. The animated intro will be featured in the Electronic Theater at SIGGRAPH 2022, premiering on Monday, 8 August with subsequent showcases on Tuesday, 9 August, Wednesday, 10 August, and via virtual access. The work’s creator, Oliver Latta, is also known by the artistic moniker “extraweg.” Here, he shares his thoughts about the project, the power of motion design, and his goal of pulling viewers out of their comfort zones:

SIGGRAPH: The main 3D title sequence for “Severance” is a great example of how motion graphics can be used as a medium for storytelling. As you learned more about the show’s narrative and theme of work/life struggles, what idea or vision motivated you the most?

Oliver Latta (OL): When Ben Stiller and his team reached out to me for the first time, he didn’t have any specific treatment. At the beginning, I received the script of the first episode with all the dialogues written down on 50 pages. I started the research from scratch, because I also didn’t get any visual references from the show at the beginning. After reading the script several times and reviewing its content, I found a lot of material to work from. This was a great starting point.

I started breaking down some of the main and more obvious themes and creating mood boards that could represent these properly. The themes were just conversation starters — points that we could agree upon, or disagree if they matched Ben’s vision, things that triggered my imagination in crafting the opening titles scenes.

After an initial creative call, I prepared a more in-depth treatment of my vision for the titles. The idea was to illustrate the struggle of this main character named Mark, played by Adam Scott, navigating his life, which is split between professional and personal dilemmas. I thought the visual work should represent the mystical journey of these different identities — memories of experiences, grief, loss, and control in one body using surrealism and subtle ironic humor. My aim was to create a surreal intro, a weird world between real and fictional — nothing too defined, so there is room for interpretation but also so the whole work is still connected to the show.

SIGGRAPH: Your artistic name “extraweg” is a combination of the words “extra” (more than what’s usual) and “weg” (a physical or conceptual path). That moniker also feels like a mission for your work — you once said you want to create art that “provokes.” Can you share your passion for using design to push boundaries and invite discomfort?

OL: Yes, for me the name extraweg is already a statement of intentions, and it explains very well how I want to be as an artist or design studio.

I usually find inspiration for my videos in everyday situations. I enjoy playing with them and presenting them in an ambiguous and uncomfortable way. There is a certain kind of social criticism, too, but not necessarily corresponding to any specific fact. Often, the inspiration comes more from a feeling or an emotion.

I read once that 90% of the information our brain gets is visual, and today we live in a visually overexploited world where we consume images at a speed we cannot fully assimilate. We are, in a way, immunizing ourselves from reality, and in the absence of stimulus we stop feeling and we stop thinking.

I have the feeling we don’t empathize with the last breaking image of the news as much as we do with a 3D animation that interprets that same reality. I think this explains very well my artistic vision. I seek to draw attention to things that concern or amuse me in one way or another. But rather than showing them explicitly, I choose to represent them ambiguously, without being obvious and always playing with the limits.

SIGGRAPH: What effect do you hope to have on the viewer?

OL: First and foremost, I am a creator. I love to create new things and challenge myself every day. My aim is to provoke emotions and be different, outstanding, and innovative. I really care about the story, the concept, and the message for each piece. I try to shake the viewer. I take viewers out of their comfort zones and make them think for themselves. In my work — both the work I am uploading to Instagram and the work I do for clients — there is always something in common: I want to provoke and sometimes confuse.

SIGGRAPH: What was your favorite part of creating this project?

OL: It was really nice to be involved in every aspect of the work. I got all the creative freedom and backup from Ben Stiller. For me, it was interesting to see how the whole project evolved over the period of time, from the first idea to the final result. It was a lot of work.

SIGGRAPH: Your work is extremely popular on Instagram. What’s your approach to best using that platform?

OL: The success of extraweg is due to Instagram, and the magical thing is that Instagram is a window to the world through which all sorts of people look out.

I don’t think anyone dares to discuss the positive influence that art has on the human being. On Instagram, I learned how people tick. Some of my videos went viral because they did such a good job of evoking a reaction from someone’s interest and compelling them to engage. I also use it as my art portfolio/gallery. I don’t post any commercial work on my main feed. It’s a place where I can show my artistic imagination without any boundaries.

SIGGRAPH: Thanks, Oliver! We’re excited to see “Severance” at SIGGRAPH 2022 in Vancouver!

OL: My pleasure! I hope attendees enjoy the experience.

The Electronic Theater at SIGGRAPH 2022 celebrates the rise of computer graphics as a medium for storytelling in animation, video effects, games, scientific visualization, and more. For Full Conference and Full Conference Supporter registrants, an Electronic Theater ticket is included at no extra charge. Registrants of other levels can add a ticket for a fee when purchasing a badge. View the exciting range of Electronic Theater projects to be presented starting with the 8 August premiere, and register for SIGGRAPH 2022. Now through 11 August, save $30 on new registrations using the code SIGGRAPHSAVINGS.

Oliver Latta is a self-described “artist, director, and human” born in Kotten, Germany. He studied design at Bauhaus University in Dessau, Germany, and has spent the last few years working as a motion designer at Sehsucht, an internationally acclaimed filmmaking, animation, and visual effects studio. Based in Berlin, Oliver created extraweg, a platform for his artistic expression that exploded on Instagram and went viral. Oliver’s work has been shared millions of times on social media, and he has collaborated with some of the world’s biggest brands, bands, and clients, including The Beatles, Gorillaz, Bring Me The Horizon, Travis Scott, Skrillex, Apple TV+, Vogue, and MTV. Through his background in design and visual effects, Oliver combines art and technology to bring unique and satisfying digital worlds to life. He focuses on provoking viewers’ sensations, forcing them to think for themselves. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Behance.

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