Our team at Perception collaborated with The Russo Brothers and Amazon to help develop a critical story within their new series, Citadel. Starring Richard Madden, Priyanka Chopra and Stanley Tucci, Citadel is a thrilling series that explores global spy networks, both good and evil. We designed the crucial narrative backstory revealing the identities and backstories of Citadel and Manticore for episode one, which includes doctored footage, custom documents and sleek UI.

Citadel Final Narrative Sequence



Since 2013, our team at Perception has collaborated with The Russo Brothers on numerous films they previously directed to bring narrative sequences to life. When this sequence was in pre-development, we were brought on to design the sequence and build its story due to our team’s previous work with The Russo Brothers on Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Gray Man.

Unlike our previous work with The Russo Brothers, which revolved more on telling the tale of the “bad guy”, this narrative sequence focused more on the heroes, bleeding into foreshadowing and uncovering a global threat through retelling moments in history. Because of this, we approached this sequence using a heroic angle with historical roots that indicated the power and influence of these organizations.



It was clear that this narrative sequence was one of the most critical elements of the first episode of this series, since it would set up everything the audience needs to know about the series’ two main factions - Citadel and Manticore. Our goal was to lay the foundations of these organizations, the high stakes and the emotional investment needed within 2 minutes.

Blueprint Motion Test

This was an exercise in hyper speed storytelling, something that The Russo Brothers have continuously trusted Perception with. In order to complete decades worth of plot in this short amount of time, we landed on a dynamic, visual method of storytelling that blends narration from Stanley Tucci and glimpses of historical moments in a thrilling, dramatic montage.

Face Scan UI Motion Study



This sequence revolves around the backstory of Citadel, a heroic spy organization who was influenced various monumental events in history. We worked closely with the show runner, VFX supervisors and producers to lay out which historical events we should highlight in the sequence.

Our teams wanted to target specific points that were beyond obvious historical moments, so we took a deep dive into the greatest political events since the 1930’s. We worked together to develop storylines around which events would work based on if Citadel was real to make this sequence completely to this organization. This section features documents, photographs, maps and memorabilia from history.

Once the sequence moves beyond the backstory of Citadel and into the uncovering of Manticore, the focus shifts from previous moments in history to current events. Manticore is linked with the 1%, so we focused on events that indicate their status and wealth while also showcasing relatable moments to the audience. Unlike the Citadel portion, Manticore’s section of this sequence includes more high-tech UI to stay with the tone of current events.



To create this sequence, our team began by mapping out our designs in Adobe Photoshop. As we refined our designs and the direction of the sequence, we moved in Adobe Illustrator to construct the UI designs and general graphics, while Photoshop was used for doctoring files and photographs.

Map Animation Test

As the sequence progresses into the more high-tech style of Manticore, we switched gears to using Cinema 4D and Adobe After Effects. Wireframes for missiles, detailed UI and models for the inside of the briefcase and files were created in Cinema 4D. To bring the edit together, we used Adobe Premiere Pro.

Manticore Family Tree Design Test



Since our narrative sequence was so critical to the development and lore of Citadel, we were brought in while the script was being written and prior to the initial shooting. Once we were engaged in development, Amazon began to shoot principle photography and additional photography to supplement our designs.

Our work centered around script pages and a cut of the scene with dialogue from Stanley Tucci. In this scene, Tucci is moving around his lab and there are screens with no content on them. We filled the screens with information, but gave a look inside of the mind of Tucci, allowing the audience to see flashes of his memories. We had complete creative freedom to manipulate this scene and cover what we needed to with our own footage and graphics to help elevate the story and make the sequence as dynamic as possible.



Within this collaboration, our team had the opportunity to rearrange and expand upon dialogue to fit the story that needed to be told and the Citadel team was eager to shoot new footage and record new dialogue to help bring this to life. As the narrative sequence became more developed, the Citadel team began rewriting Tucci’s dialogue to fit the heart, tone and necessary story beats of the sequence. We worked with scratch tracks to help align our sequence, which were then finalized by Tucci’s track.



It was an honor to collaborate once again with The Russo Brothers and Amazon to develop such a critical sequence for Citadel. This exercise of hyper speed storytelling is always an exciting opportunity for our team to take a deep dive into history and see how we can manipulate it to tell the richest story possible. Citadel is now streaming on Prime Video.