Saturday, February 27, 2010

Revanche (DVD)

Hey, look at this: a design process post, on this "design process blog"! What are the odds? *Ahem.*

Anyway, previously, I discussed the process of designing the theatrical poster for this film. The image we chose for the poster was aimed at mass appeal--emphasizing the "genre" elements of the plot (i.e. the gun) to hopefully draw people into the theater... and I think it was a good fit for that.

But when it came time to design the DVD, we wanted to take a step back, think less about why Revanche will be interesting to see tonight at the movies, and more about why this film deserves a place in the collection, what about it is really remarkable. And we decided, ultimately, that it was the subtle things--the gentleness in the tone, the quiet way the film inhabits different spaces--that make it great. One thing that I loved in particular was the way Spielmann will linger on shots of various locations, well before you understand why they might be significant. You almost don't notice it on first viewing, except when the film finally arrives at the moment which gives a particular location its significance, and it has that much more impact.

Practically speaking, the other major advantage we had for the DVD was that I could use frame grabs from the film itself, instead of relying solely on set photography. (We didn't yet have a digitial master when I was working on the poster, and anyway frame grabs don't really have enough resolution to blow up that large.) Don't get me wrong, there was some excellent set photography done for this film, but having the entire film open up to you is a huge advantage.

So, these first two were based on an image from the film that Peter Becker particularly liked... it's a big emotional turning point moment in the film (which I won't spoil for you) that's punctuated by a wind that starts blowing across the previously clam lake. It's a great moment in the film, but it really depended on the movement of the water to make it work, so these... didn't work.

This next was based on a [german, I think?] poster for the film. I rebuilt it from framegrabs since I couldn't find the original files. I like the poster, but I'm glad we didn't use this for the DVD, since it's someone else's design... (Original poster is the 2nd image below.)

This next one I quite liked, because if you've seen the film, you understand immediately the importance of this moment (again, don't want to spoil it for anyone), but even if you haven't, you get a wonderful sense of calm and quiet but yet with an unmistakable sense that something is very very wrong here... a variation of this actually wound up as the booklet cover. (More on that below.)

And finally, the winner: based on the opening shot of the film, this image of "ripples in the water" is a visual metaphor that's certainly been done before... but it, again, takes on a deeper meaning once you've seen that point in the film and know just what is making those ripples, plus it's just a visually beautiful image. Again, very much that sense of quiet. I also quite like the fact that you first view this an image of trees and the reflection of those trees in the water, but in fact both sets of trees are reflections in the water (one before the water ripples, one after), the top one is just flipped upside down. People tend not to notice that at first, but even though you can't put your finger on it, you kind of know that something is off... Anyway, I liked this one a lot, and so did everyone else, so there you have it.

People often ask me to include more than just the covers on here, and I think this is a good opportunity to do that, since the booklet design went through a couple iterations here, too. Here's a look at the first version (I've shrunk it down so you can get a sense of the whole thing--click to enlarge a bit, though still not full size. If you want to read the essay, it's up at the Criterion Current (or you could always just buy the DVD)):

We so seldom get good, high-resolution color photography, I was kind of seduced by it, so I built this design based primarily around nice colors and pretty pictures. And it's fine, I think. But Peter reminded me of some of what I was talking about above--in particular the idea of locations--and I came at the design again with a new perspective, using framegrabs this time:

I think the final booklet was definitely an improvement, and overall I was very happy with this package--an interesting case study in treating the same film in different ways.


Jordie Bellaire said...

Oh boy, I really did love the cover...but you're right I never realized it was reflections on both sets of trees! It makes it even BETTER.

Kate said...

Out of curiosity, what sort of resolution are you looking at with a frame grab? And are you designing at 300 dpi or higher for press?