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Oz the Great & Powerful

Motion Graphics, Consumer

Embracing the idea of illusion that plays a central role in the story behind Sam Raimi's film Oz the Great and Powerful, design/production studio yU+co created the imaginative title sequences that perfectly captures the mood of the Wizard of Oz prequel.

“The opening sequence is aimed at kids, so we chose classic imagery that would resonate with them—a magician, monkeys, a circus elephant in a tutu, acrobats and witches,” said director Garson Yu. "We created a 3-D wonderland with visuals drawn from the imaginative world Sam created, but reinterpreted them so as not to simply mimic the story. We want to prime the audience for the adventure, but not give it away.” Yu teased the audience with a concept that pays homage to illusion and the history of cinema, specifically the techniques and styles found in silent movies from filmmakers like Georges Melies, perhaps best known for his groundbreaking A Trip To The Moon. Yu also took inspiration from the German documentary Film Before Film, which gives a tour of the visual tricks and mechanical illusions that entertained audiences from the 17th to the 20th century.

For Yu and the creative team, it was essential to convey a sense of naivety in the opening sequence, something that would evoke small-town theaters where stagehands hold sticks attached to cardboard artwork offstage and painted scenery boards drop and slide around the set. “We wanted the art work to look authentic and have a hand-painted quality to it, so all of the individual elements were created with that in mind,” Yu explained. “Everything has a sense of physical reality, and gravity to it—objects don't float or fly in—they are always supported by something tangible. Plus, all of the imagery references story and character. Our typography was inspired by look of early circus posters and silent film titles.”

Garson Yu, creative designer/director; Carol Wong, executive producer; Sarah Coatts, producer; Stevan Del George, stereographer/lead compositor; Etsuko Uji/Edwin Bakeread, designers; Gary Garza, designer/lead animator; Ryan Kravetz, lead animator/lighter; Michele Graybeal/Barry Jackson, designers/painters; Rafael Hurtado/Gary Glover. texture/painters; Helen Hsu/Jihwan Kimont, typography; David Dodds/Kunio Ogo. animators; Mike Parks, editor; Isa Alsup, senior compositor/animator; Nick Rubenstein, compositor; Sean Kinnear, compositor/3-D animation; Jean Chiu, 3-D animation; Evan Jackson, production coordinator; Bill Heiden/Jay Sloat, systems engineers; Ajay Reddy, renderer; Latoria Ortiz, assistant editor; yU+co (Hollywood, CA), production/design company; Walt Disney Company, client.