Marvel Studios approached our team at Perception to design the Main on End title sequence for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. This film tells the story of Shang-Chi, a skilled martial artist who was trained to be an assassin at a young age by his father, and his challenges with facing his past. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is an emotional story of personal journey and growth, which was our greatest inspiration in our design for the Main on End title sequence.
Main On End Title Sequence
We discussed in detail what the main focus of the sequence should be with the team at Marvel Studios. Director of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Destin Daniel Cretton, noted that he wanted us to look at emotional and impactful moments from the film.
Throughout the movie, the characters are presented with water in many forms, with one of the most unique forms being a water-like solution that displays physical messages. As a result, our approach to this sequence was to use this particular element to tell stories of pivotal and touching moments seen throughout the film.
While the liquid water element was the basis for our designs, we decided to focus more on the natural form of water in the way it looks and moves. Kung Fu and many of the fighting techniques seen in this film are visually beautiful and very fluid. These moves reminded our team of the aesthetics and movement of water. As a result, this sequence celebrates the splashes and droplets of water, with the stories and world of Shang-Chi rendered into it.
Some specific traits of water that particularly inspired us were crown splashes, the formation of droplets, and how droplets form ripples when they interact with a body of water. Each of these movements have unique features that vary every time they occur – no two droplets will form the same exact ripple. We studied these actions thoroughly in order to capture the fluid motion perfectly, so the audience will feel as if the sequence could actually be formed from real water.
The Human Form
From complex ways of fighting to casual gestures, our team deeply studied the movements of the characters in the film in order to get a better understanding as to how to form these characters in water. We wanted it to be clear that even made up of water and intermingled with splashes and sprays, the audience was viewing a person. We developed several motion tests to help create detailed definitions of characters and poses made of water.
A Storytelling Sequence
We sat down with Director Destin Daniel Cretton and the team at Marvel Studios to discuss and select certain moments from the film to be represented within the Main on End title sequence. Unlike traditional Main on End title sequences that tell a story and then display specific title cards for the film’s actors, this sequence was intended to continue the storytelling aspect from beginning to end. We wanted to go back to the heart of the film and allow the audience to be taken on a visually dynamic and interesting journey through those emotional moments regardless of who’s name was on screen.
Key Emotional Moments
One particular moment that we focused on was the first time that Shang-Chi’s mother and father meet. Shang-Chi’s father is an all-powerful master of fighting, and he has never met someone that he couldn’t best. In the film, he enters a mystical bamboo forest and discovers a woman, who ends up becoming Shang-Chi’s mother. The scene turns into a beautifully choreographed Kung Fu fight, full of fluid movements in a way that reflects a dance. It is in this fight sequence that we see Shang-Chi’s mother’s signature move, a sweep of the leg.
This scene holds emotional significance since it is a heavy turning point for Shang-Chi’s father’s character. Because of this, we depicted this moment in our Main on End title sequence by entering a bamboo forest and showing the leg sweep that bested Shang-Chi’s father.
The Use Of Lighting
Lighting played a large role in creating this sequence. In order to emphasize certain aspects and give an accurate portrayal of water, we utilized lighting and color to enhance our designs.
The best way to convey that the liquid in the sequence was water was to utilize deep blue and turquoise colors. Despite water being clear, it is often associated with hues of the color blue. These subtle hints of blue reflect on the water from the “outside world”, so while the water itself is not blue, it is capturing the hue being cast onto it. Light rays are simulated to help add depth and dimension while simultaneously adding highlights to the water, enhancing the natural look of it.
Another lighting element we took advantage of was coloring certain important features within the sequence. One such feature were the rings worn by Shang-Chi and his father. When Shang-Chi’s father wears the rings, they emit a bluish glow, and when Shang-Chi takes control of the rings, they emit a gold glow. To mimic the way the rings appear in the film, we added glow effects to them – blue when the father is in control and gold when Shang-Chi is in control.
While portraying the power control struggle, the rings are also one of the only parts of the sequence that are self-illuminating and contain an energy that can produce its own color. This not only adds a splash of eye-catching color to the sequence, but it also places an emphasis on the importance of these rings.
Another self-illuminating feature in the sequence are the water droplets being formed from a dragon scale spear. These orange-red hues signify the color of the dragon scales and the importance of those scales to the people of Ta-Lo.