The Heiress

The most successful executions of feature film and broadcast series’ titles create a unique bond between the viewer and the content.  Sometimes they serve as a prologue, providing relevant back story that is not contained within the feature.  Titles can also serve as a visual instigator, setting the mood and drawing the viewer into what is about to happen.  Either way, they drive the main story arc with a story of their own and serve as a beautiful example of motion design.  Our team is pretty much obsessed with title work and the storytelling it enables, so developing one of our own for exploration purposes was an easy decision.

Researching the famous Winchester mansion and Sarah Winchester’s life, we developed a concept that is dark, moody and mysterious.  The Winchester Mansion is an eccentric, opulent labyrinth designed by a grieving woman, riddled with guilt and trapped in her struggle with personal demons and those perceived to surround her.  The motifs of the building and transformation as well as guilt, and paranoia are contrasted in a story arc that reflects the true history while being a bit disorienting, much like the house itself.

VFX & Compositing Breakdown

Beauty Stills

Musical Composition by Dynamite Laser Beam

We felt “The Heiress” titles should be driven by music. We initially choose this story because it encompasses so many physical and temporal opportunities.  Our main vision was to create an impactful and emotional connection with the viewer through both audio and visuals. The musical aspect of this piece had to tackle many facets of storytelling.  First, the music had to define the era. Second, it should define the elements and maze-like features of the house. Third, it needed to invoke mental instability or sense of confinement with the players involved.

We wanted to find a way to put a contemporary spin into a period piece and to portray a foundationally mental viewpoint without crossing the narrow boundary into the typical haunted house motif. The entire concept started visually from openness and progresses into confinement, with the feeling of guilt as the motivation for everything we see and hear. We had to stay true to the era, only using vintage sounding instruments that were around at that time. We used a broken piano and slightly de-tuned all the instruments to create the feeling that “something’s not quite right here.” For the metallic percussion sounds we wanted it to feel like bayonets clanking together, or the sound of rifles being assembled in a factory.

For all of this, our good friends from Dynamite Laser Beam came into party with us


Audio: Dynamite Laser Beam
Executive Producer: Rebecca Olson
Senior Producer: Julie Morrandez
Creative Directors: Ryan Bramwell, Ed Rhine
Editor/Colorist: Herman Nieuwoudt
Design: Harrison Vincent, Samantha Mireles, Jason Oberg, Miles Petrock
Storyboarding/Illustration: Jamie Givens
2D/3D Animation: Harrison Vincent, Samantha Mireles, Jason Oberg
3D Modeling: Derek Superville, Jon Drobil
Compositing: Harrison Vincent, Ed Rhine, Samantha Mireles