Responses by Patrick Clair; creative director, designer and editor; Antibody.
Background: Creating the titles for Nine Perfect Strangers, a drama miniseries on Hulu, posed a unique creative challenge. Many of our title sequences lurk in darkness, technology or genre, but Nine Perfect Strangers is set in the tropical space of wellness retreats. However, underpinning the sunshine and smoothies is a corrosive, destructive force: the concept of “wellness.” The wellness industry feeds off exacerbating self-esteem issues and convincing the vulnerable that healthy bodies and minds need endless, expensive improvement. The challenge was to present a sticky, insidious paradise—a place where simmering sunshine seduces you into a world of dark hearts and exploitation.
Design core: For a sequence that focused more on photography than animation, the project introduced a technological opportunity. I’ve always been fascinated by machine learning’s potential to change how we process images in the field of motion design. For Nine Perfect Strangers, we used bleeding-edge software EbSynth to create a unique flavor of “motion-moshing” animation. We used the software’s machine learning–powered motion analysis capabilities to transfer the motion of video clips—often of people swimming or dancing—onto still imagery of flowers and starscapes, among others. The results are trippy, fluid videos reminiscent of data moshing but smoother, more organic and devoid of the characteristic glitching.
New lessons: Machine learning is surely going to open up a raft of possibilities over the coming years. Since I’ve practiced as a motion designer for almost 20 years now, it thrills me to realize that as an industry, we’re just getting started.
Process: I worked very closely with Jonathan Levine, who directed all eight episodes. It was a great collaboration with lots of shared ideas and back and forth. Ultimately, this sequence is about subversion: co-opting images of sunsets, oceans and brightness to present them in a dark, subversive way.