The main title design sequence from the Amazon TV series Good Omens is both unique and bizarre. The work of creative director Peter Anderson, it incorporates elements of live action, green screen, stop motion animation, 2D animation, and 3D CGI animation. Good Omens is based on the 1990 novel Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and directed by Douglas Mackinnon.
The title design cleverly incorporates the story and the world in which it’s based with stylish graphics and imagery embedded within just a short sequence run time. “It starts at the beginning of time, with an opening scene that starts in the desert and isn’t too dissimilar from the first light on Earth,” said Anderson. “Next, we walk through the Garden of Eden, and the apple falls. We work our way through the path of a quintessential English landscape and go past the burning bookshelf. Then we do some quite playful things as we take an escalator up to heaven or down to hell.
“Slowly but surely the animation in the titles gathers all the characters from the drama as they walk toward Armageddon, which is the essence of the show,” he continued. “At the end, they all fall off the earth and some go to heaven and others go to hell. In the same breath, there’s another story going on as our characters and different scenes build a relationship between the angel and demon. There are a lot of little substories that happen. In a sense, both the angel and demon are the two leads building their own armies toward the final battle of Armageddon.”
The combination of live action with an array of animation effects brings the whole sequence to life. “Most of the characters and the procession are live action. We actually got the costumes from the drama and took the actors, in costume, into a green screen room,” said Anderson. “We took a modification of our angel and our demon, in 2D, and made a series of different characters’ faces that we mapped onto the live action. It creates a very peculiar looking effect, with something that’s real connected to something that isn’t real. This helped give a really quirky bonkers feel to our procession. In addition to that, we have 3D environments, including some of the CGI props from the show. We created our two lead characters two-dimensionally on purpose. We had these really bizarre contradictions of what we were looking at, with perspectives and combinations that were impossible.”
This approach, and the combinations of effects, was not without its challenges, said Anderson. “Probably the most challenging thing was sticking to what we were asked to do from the beginning. We had to keep reminding ourselves that it had to be absolutely bonkers, original, and fresh. Everything we did, we had never done before. We had different people doing different things in terms of we had one person making the 3D landscapes, one person making 2D characters, somebody else mapping the heads to the live action. We obviously shot the live action in the green screen room. And we had somebody else making props. It was all under the same vision of trying to create something completely bonkers!”
It was an ambitious undertaking that ultimately paid off. “The fact that we used so many techniques helped create a unique world as it all sits together. I’m really proud of the subtleties and uniqueness,” said Anderson. “It’s something that I certainly haven’t seen before on any other show. It was great to build the world of Good Omens in this unique way, rather than reference any other project. We tried to make the experience both epic and intimate. We also had great fun.”