Prologue for Robin Hood

Make sure to visit Prologue’s site to see more of this project and others they have worked on, very inspiring stuff.

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I was able to get in contact with Henry Hobson, creative director at Prologue who led this project, to ask him a few questions…

Can you give us a little background of yourself and how you ended up at Prologue?

I am an English designer. I keenly stepped into Prologue nearly two years ago to work with Kyle Cooper, I came from a long history working at Why Not Associates in London; primarily on motion projects that use handmade or analog
processes as much as possible. Although having studied at the Royal College of Art, my background includes all areas of design –
– from stamps to sculptures.

Could you describe a bit about the beginning creative process that led to the painterly treatment of the end titles? This treatment bookends the films with a romantic aesthetic, was this something that Ridley Scott saw as an over arching theme or did you push the titles in this direction?

The beginning was a call from Ridley Scott to the office. He was keen for our involvement 8 months before end of production, he wanted us to suggest various animators to work on the sequence. Ridley clearly had a vision of something handmade and different for the end sequence and was keen on our help, which I believe echoed his vision for the film to be a more romantic take on the classic tale. We suggested a few including the eventual choice one of his previous collaborators Gianluigi Toccafondo, When the production started Toccafondo, arduously spent tireless hours creating a sublime animated sequence in his unique style. Working with Ridley and Pietro Scalia Prologue edited the sequence to build the right pace and tension, before echoing the painted treatment with our typography. Ridley on this project was fascinated by the handmade, enrolling Gianluigi Toccafondo to animate the end sequence, and Prologue to hand produce the typography. Apart from the editing, every aspect of the titles were hand made, making it as close to a 12th century production as is possible.

I saw that you worked with Gianluigi Toccafondo, an Italian artist, to create these titles. How did the exchange work between Prologue and the artist. Did he work locally or come to the studio for the collaboration?

Initially the exchange was due to be a pure collaboration, after recommending the animator, we expected to be able to full work alongside and to allow us to solve some of the issues that came up after some of the painting had been completed. Once certain elements were animated by Toccafondo and acme film-works we worked with editing for pace and rhythm, building space for the type as well as completing the type itself too.

Beyond working with the artist, what was the actual technical process that went into creating these titles?

I wouldnt like to spill the secrets behind this, suffice to say that there is no keyframing, no filters no post production. And a lot of individual frames hand painted.

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I know I’ve focused on the titles for the films, but Prologue also generated a few other elements for the film, including legends and type treatments. The original type set you created for the film was a process that caught my eye. Could you describe how the type developed throughout that process, and how you arrive to the final type treatment?

The type development was key to our work at Prologue, our idea was to echo Tocafondos effect with our typography. Initially we worked with existing fonts but found them too limiting. So we created a complete custom serif typeface to evoke the adventure, romance, promise, mystery qualities of the movie. We printed out each credit, then hand inked each name, working in 4k meant we could really go to town with really fine details. Manija Emran, one of our typographers, then added amazingly intricate custom flourishes to each letter, not just a full alphabet, but also every single character had its own custom flourish, to produce a truly unique type treatment. Even the locator cards had more love poured into them than most title sequences. During the end credits we printed our comped name cards onto non-porous paper then smudged and distorted by hand each name a dozen times, to produce a living hold and hand made transitions. Principally animated by Georgia Tribuiani, the smudged elements really integrated and transitioned the type into a constantly shifting and flowing sequence.

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The legend cards were again created practical as much as possible; custom font and flourishes, hand treated, real candle flicker filmed on red 4k, then composited. We followed Ridley’s distinct directions in that the typography leaned toward Celtic and Norman, beautiful, as if written by a monk on a parchment paper. We achieved this through days of arduous work doing everything in monk-like fashion through traditional handmade processes to achieve Ridley Scott’s vision.

With the main title we set out to produce a type treatment that included the whole story of Robin Hood; there are subtle Moorish references with the12th century Islamic typography alongside the painted Vellum English treatment.

Thank you very much for your time Henry, and congrats to all those who worked on this great project.