Main on end titles for Alex Garland's Annihilation

Directed by: Alex Garland
Based on the novel by: Jeff VanderMeer
Music by: Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow
Title Designer: Matt Curtis
Title Production: Matt Lawrence

Here's a challenge...  how do you create a visual representation of "chaos" in an end title sequence for Alex Garland's highly anticipated new film Annihilation?

Titles designer Matt Curtis had a very specific look and feel he was after which I initially struggled to emulate.  Whilst doing research at the start of the project I determined that we wanted to create what are known as fractal flames to best visualise the beauty of mathematical chaos and "The Shimmer".  There are tools that do this in after effects but found they were incredibly difficult to control and often crashed After Effects, I knew this wasn’t the way to go.

Thankfully I discovered a piece of stand alone software called Chaotica which could create the look we were after.  This is a fantastic piece of software that allows you to build your own fractal flames. Over the next few months I played around with this software and was able to output a large number of different styles and looks of animated fractals. We then made selects of the preferred looks.  Once everyone was happy I re-rendered them at film resolution.  

If any of you have ever generated fractals, you’ll know that these can be a very processor heavy things to compute.  It was very much a balance of quality versus speed. Though trial and error optimum settings were found that gave the best results versus render time.  It still took many weeks of constant overnight rendering to produce the fractals even with these settings. 

Alex Garland wanted the typography to almost not be there, barely visible in the chaos. In After Effects the typography was positioned between layers of fractals wiping them in and out and burying them in the comp.

Fractal flames are a member of the iterated function system class of fractals created by Scott Draves in 1992.

Early fractal flame tests

For further explorations in the beauty of Chaos:

Create your own Fractal Flames, check out Chaotica by Glare Technologies Ltd.​​​​​​​

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